Betfred League 1 Round-Up
May 24, 2022
Keighley Cougars have taken over at the top of Betfred League 1 after their narrow 29-18 win over Midlands Hurricanes in round nine.
In front of another four-figure gate at Cougar Park, Rhys Lovegrove (pictured) and his side were given an almighty scare by the Hurricanes in their first match under caretaker coach Dave Scott due to Richard Squires’ suspension.
All seemed to be going to plan for Keighley as tries from Charlie Graham and Nathan Roebuck, along with three Jack Miller goals gave the hosts a 14-0 first half lead. And with Hurricanes’ half-back Benn Hardcastle in the sin-bin, Scott’s troops faced an uphill battle to hang on to Keighley’s coattails.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Midlands managed to cut the deficit four minutes before the break as Jack Dawson crossed and Ben Stead converted.
Minutes after the restart, Roebuck crossed again to give Keighley a 12-point advantage but the Hurricanes refused to lie down. They had to do it the hard way as Hayden Freeman saw yellow after 51 minutes but back up to a full complement for the final 15 minutes, Midlands mounted a stirring comeback.
Firstly prop Brad Clavering bulldozed his way over from close-range and Hardcastle added the extras. The pressure on Keighley was plain to see as Dane Chisholm kicked a 70th minute field goal to stretch the home side’s advantage to seven points.
But Midlands scored again through Matty Welham and Hardcastle’s goal left the score 19-18 in favour of Keighley.
A grandstand finish was set to ensue but Mo Agoro, Keighley’s prolific winger had other ideas. He managed to score out wide with four minutes left and then in the dying embers, raced 70 metres to dot down and Miller converted.
North Wales’ inactivity means the Crusaders drop to second with Rochdale in third. The Hornets, who lost to Keighley in round eight, got their promotion tilt back on track at Spotland against Doncaster.
The hosts edged a 70-point thriller 46-28 with on loan winger Jy Hitchcock bagging a fine treble. The Leigh man, who has temporarily moved across Lancashire, was ultimately the difference between the two sides.
Tom Halliday put Doncaster in front with an early try but Rochdale dominated the first half. The Dons’ cause was not helped by prop Ben Mathiou’s sin-binning for use of his knees after 27 minutes. Rochdale opened up a 20-10 advantage at this stage but back to a full compliment, Doncaster scored right on the half-time siren.
Aaron Ollett-Robson was the man to cross the whitewash and Connor Robinson’s conversion left the game evenly balanced with Rochdale 20-16 ahead.
The second stanza started just as the first did as Doncaster scored first through Aaron York to lead again. It got even better for Richard Horne’s side when Kobi Poching, on loan to the Dons from Super League side Wakefield Trinity, seized on a handling error from Rochdale to register.
Rochadle regrouped and started their comeback 23 minutes from time through Lewis Sheridan’s try which he then goaled.
The home revival was completed by Connor Aspey after a surging run from Fijian interchange Joe Taira. Leading by just two points, Hitchcock’s hat-trick score put Rochdale further in front and in the final 10 minutes, Matt Calland’s side kicked on.
Ben Forster was the first home player to score before the victory was finally wrapped up by Cobi Green.
At Stebonheath Park, West Wales Raiders were brought back down to earth with a bump as Hunslet eased to a 50-12 triumph. After defeating Cornwall in round eight, Raiders went into their clash against the Parksiders confident of back-to-back wins.
But Hunslet had other ideas and tries from Josh Jordan-Roberts, Kiedan Hartley, Harvey Hallas, Jordan Paga and David Gibbons gave the visitors a 26-6 interval lead – Aedan Coleman’s try, converted by James Murphy accounted for the hosts’ only points.
The one-way traffic continued in the second half with Wayne Rettie’s try, along with two more from Gibbons as he completed his hat-trick, made the points safe for Hunslet.
Callum Merrett, Cornwall’s destroyer-in-chief from the previous round, scored a consolation before Hartley’s late try, converted by Joe Sanderson, hoisted Hunslet over the 50-point mark.
The fourth game of round nine to take place at the weekend saw Cornwall travel to Heywood Road to face off against Swinton Lions.
A vastly improved Cornwall showing saw Neil Kelly’s side very much in the contest after 40 minutes. On-loan Hull Kingston Rovers half-back Adam Rusling and Joe Purcell crossed the whitewash for Kelly’s men who trailed 24-10 after 40 minutes.
Swinton upped the ante after the turnaround and scored five further tries to register two competition points. Cornwall did manage another score of their own when the outstanding Rusling gathered his own grubber to dot down under the sticks but Swinton ran out 54-16 winners.
The final round nine game takes place at the New River Stadium this coming Friday, May 27 as London Skolars host Oldham Roughyeds in an unofficial curtain raiser to the following day’s Betfred Challenge Cup final between Wigan Warriors and Huddersfield Giants, at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.