KEIGHLEY Cougars secured a fourth-place finish in Betfred League 1 as they staged a dramatic comeback to defeat 12-man Doncaster for a fifth consecutive win.
Trailing by fourteen points heading into the final fifteen minutes of the game, the Cougars would rally and score three tries to snatch victory from the jaws of the defeat.
The Dons started the game the better of the two sides, and they raced into an early two try advantage inside the opening ten minutes.
They would open the scoring through Ollie Greensmith, the winger rising highest in the air to pluck the ball out of the reach of Alix Stephenson and fall over the line.
From the resulting restart, the home side kicked on the last and after the ball bounced off a Cougars leg the referee allowed play to continue, and they shifted the ball out wide to Tom Halliday who raced in at the corner.
Then came the game’s big talking point.
Following a tackle on Ben Cockayne by Jake Webster, the touch judge came onto the field with his flag raised.
And the resulting discussion with the referee resulted in Cockayne being shown a red card and given his marching orders.
The Cougars shortly after got themselves onto the scoreboard as Webster reacted quickest to a grubber from Kyle Kesik and dive onto the ball behind the sticks.
A penalty conversion from Jake Sweeting would keep Doncaster on the front foot, but the margin at the break would be reduced to two points as Con Mika powered his way over from close range for the Cougars.
The Dons though did nearly score a try shortly before the hooter sounded, Ross Peltier being halted short of the line against his former club.
The early stages of the second half were a tense affair with both sides squandering opportunities to take hold off the game.
But it would be the home side who got the next score.
A bombing kick was spilt under pressure by Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e, and Sweeting took full advantage as he made the most of confusion within the Keighley defensive ranks to step through a tackle and race over to touch down.
Minutes later, it appeared having to play 63 minutes a man down had rallied the home side to victory as Sweeting intercepted a Jack Miller pass and raced 80 metres down the field to score his second of the afternoon.
With their backs against the wall, Rhys Lovegrove’s side were trying to force a way back into the game and a loose pass following a break from Dan Parker appeared to take the wind out of their sales.
However, a knock-on from the home side would allow Scott Murrell to feed Webster and send him over for his second try of the game to spark the unlikeliest of comebacks.
From the kick-off that would follow, the Cougars rolled Doncaster back down the pitch and found a way through to make it a two-point ballgame once more.
Jason Tali failed to make a tackle on Taylor Prell, and the centre made the most of the space left in front of him to battle over next to the posts.
A disallowed Mo Agoro effort for a forward pass followed in the next set, but the visitors would find the try that sealed victory and sent the healthy travelling support in South Yorkshire into raptures.
With the referee calling the last tackle, the Cougars kept the ball alive and would move across the pitch from right to left allowing Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e to race in at the corner and secure the win.
Match Report by Joshua Chapman
Match Photography by Jonny Tomes-Green
By Joshua Chapman