North Wales Crusaders’ impressive seven-match winning streak came to an end as they struggled to handle a hungry Keighley Cougars in the second-half and fell to a 34-14 defeat. 

After holding a 14-6 lead early in the second-half, Crusaders found themselves in an excellent position, but their own errors provided an opportunity for Keighley to get back into the game and they took full advantage.

The Cougars blitzed North Wales in the final quarter and showed a real clinical edge when it mattered most to secure their spot in the play-offs. 

Crusaders took the lead when they shifted the ball to the left flank, Gav Rodden broke down the wing and had the pace to round the covering Keighley defence on his way to the line.

When North Wales were awarded a penalty next to the sticks for offside, they opted to kick for goal and Tommy Johnson took their advantage to 8-0. 

Despite plenty of pressure on Keighley’s line, Crusaders couldn’t get over for another and the home side hit back through Scott Murrell, who spotted space to chip over the top of the defence and recollect to ground the ball.

With playing down the hill at Cougar Park in the second-half, it was going to be interesting to see how it helped North Wales and they crossed early on as Brad Brennan knocked off numerous tackles to bulldoze his way over.

But Keighley soon started to turn the screw and hit back when Jake Webster forced his way over down the right flank.

Within a couple of minutes, the Yorkshire club took the lead for the first time as Jack Miller’s grubber kick was fumbled and Taylor Prell picked up the pieces to dive over.

The momentum was well and truly with Keighley at this stage and Quentin Laula-Togaga’e was the next to get in on the act, finishing out wide as Crusaders’ defence began to tire.

After Alix Stephenson broke down the right and stepped inside to finish off a nice attacking move, the game was beyond any doubt, but North Wales did everything to reduce their deficit. 

However, a number of expansive plays didn’t come off and Keighley completed their scoring on the hooter, with Dan Parker crossing acrobatically in the left corner. 

COUGARS
  1 Quentin Laula-Togaga’e
  4 Taylor Prell
  3 Jake Webster 
22 Alix Stephenson
33 Phoenix Laula-Togaga’e 
15 Scott Murrell
  7 Jack Miller
  8 Jack Coventry
36 James Feather 
20 Brenden Santi
35 Con Mika
13 Aaron Levy
19 Billy Gaylor
Subs: 
12 Dan Parker
14 Ryan Wright
23 Matthew Bailey
31 Charlie Graham 

Tries: Murrell (38), Webster (52), Prell (58), Quentin Laula-Togaga’e (62), Stephenson (69), Parker (79)
Goals: Miller 5/6

CRUSADERS
  1 Tommy Johnson  
  2 Dave Eccleston
  3 Jack Holmes 
15 Matt Reid
  5 Rob Massam 
  6 Brad Billsborough
  7 Jordy Gibson
10 Warren Thompson 
  9 Karl Ashall
13 Chris Barratt
17 Ben Morris
11 Gav Rodden
12 Alex Eckley
Subs:
8 Ethan Kelly
18 Callum Hazzard
16 Brad Brennan
14 Andy Ball

Tries: Rodden (23) Brennan (44)
Goals: Johnson 3/3

Referee: Liam Staveley  
HT: 6-8
Attendance: 1,327
MOTM: Matt Reid – the centre didn’t stop and made some impressive yards going forward in what was a real arm wrestle for most of the match. 

NWC Rugby League

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