Cornwall RLFC


Cornwall RLFC 12 Keighley Cougars 56 – Match Report

June 12, 2022

Paul Bolger in action against Keighley Cougars – Patrick Tod

Table topping Keighley Cougars saw off a spirited Cornwall side who were forced to play 52 minutes with 12 men owing to red and yellow cards.

The win, Keighley’s 10th on the bounce, was nothing more than the table toppers deserved. But the efforts of a depleted Cornwall side should also be applauded – even more so given their numerical disadvantage.

The officials did little to endear themselves to the Duchy faithful with a string of marginal calls in the first half that went against the hosts.

Referee John McMullen sent Luke Collins to the sin bin just shy of the 20 minute mark for a late tackle and then disallowed two Cornwall tries.

Irish interchange Paul Bolger thought he had dotted down after a powerful charge near the Cougars’ line but the merry whistle blower adjudged a knock-on.

Cornwall again thought they had registered in the try column before the break but this time, Aaron Jones-Bishop was called a foot in touch by touch judge Alex McDonald.

The game’s big talking and turning point then came just shy of the half-time hooter when home full-back Liam Whitton was sent for an early bath. Battling to get to his feet to play the ball, grandstand touch judge Peter Wroe alerted the attention of McMullen and at first it appeared that he was going to penalise Keighley.

However, after a period of deliberation, the referee reached for his back pocket and Whitton was shown red. The signal from McMullen was that the dismissal was for a punch although video evidence seemed to suggest no serious foul play had taken place.

To rub salt into Cornwall’s wounds, the hosts, who had been very much in the game against the champions-elect, shipped another try when Charlie Graham crossed for his second of the opening stanza. Jack Miller converted and Keighley led 28-0.

Before the late first half drama, Cornwall had perhaps been the architects of their own downfall when they shipped two penalties which both resulted in Keighley tries from Dane Chisholm and Alix Stephenson.

Graham opened his account after 34 minutes and with Collins in the bin, full-back Lewis Young scored the try of the game with a brilliant run from midfield.

But in a clear barometer to Keighley’s respect for Cornwall and the Choughs’ efforts on the pitch, despite the disparity in league positions, the leaders opted to kick for goal when awarded a penalty early in the piece. Ironically, after sacrificing the chance of six-points, Miller screwed his effort from almost bang in front wide of the sticks.

With the Cornwall floodgates expected to open for the duration of the second 40 minutes, it then came as something of a surprise to the encouraging four-figure crowd that Neil Kelly’s side scored next.

Nathan Conroy’s chip over the top bounced nicely and after he cleany gathered, Nathan Cullen, on loan from Hull Kingston Rovers and making his Cornwall debut, supported well to score. Joe Purcell kicked the extras.

The respite was only temporary for Cornwall with Chisholm dancing his way over in trademark fashion before Harvey Spence and Mo Agoro scored with 20 minutes left.

Keighley were threatening to run riot but once again the Choughs dug deep and only two further visiting tries were recorded through Toby Everrett and Agoro.

It should have been three but Stephenson, having crossed the line unopposed, saw the ball knocked from his grasp by home skipper Jamie Prisk as he was about to score.

The final word went to Cornwall three minutes from time as Purcell, who delivered his best showing in a gold and black shirt to date, chipped clear for Jones-Bishop to register his second four-pointer in as many games. Purcell added the extras as Cornwall finished with a flourish but Keighley’s seemingly unstoppable League 1 juggernaut continues to roll on. 

Cornwall: Whitton, Trerise, Jones-Bishop, Tora, Chard, Conroy, Purcell, Mullally, Collins, Hartshorne, Cullen, Odgers, Collinson. Interchange: (all used) Turton, Bolger, Ray Prisk.

Tries: Cullen, Jones-Bishop; Goals: Purcell 2/2

Sin bin: Collins

Red card: Whitton

Keighley: Young, Agoro, Webster, Graham, Stephenson, Chisholm, Miller, Everett, Feather, Parker, Lynam, Levy, Gaylor. Interchange: (all used) Kesik, Murrell, Spence, Ho.

Tries: Chisholm (2), Stephenson, Young, Graham (2), Spence, Agoro (2), Everett. Goals: Miller 8/11

Referee: John McMullen; Touch judges: Peter Wroe and Alex McDonald; Reserve referee: Phil Johnson

Attendance: 1,082