Beverley 26 Keighley 41
Report by Tony Burns
Keighley, who topped the table at the start of the day travelled to Beverley who have been struggling this season with a number of key players out to long term injuries. Many may have predicted a comfortable win for the Rose Cottage side, but it proved to be a harder day than some expected.
Kicking off towards the clubhouse, Keighley immediately took control of the game and only a harshly judged forward pass deprived Sam Blakely of an opening try after an excellent break from Atkinson.
However, after only 6 minutes a line out on the 5 metre line was driven forward by powerhouse prop Sam Booker, tying up most the Beverley pack before quick ball from scrum half Nathan Pickles picked out 2nd row Eddie Keighley who found the defensive gap to score Keighley’s opening try, the conversion from Brown hitting the post.
For the next 15 minutes Beverley had plenty of possession but Keighley’s superbly organized defence kept the home side well away from their line. Keighley finally moved back into Beverley territory and a scrum penalty led to a line out in the home sides 22 metre area. Another fine drive forward by prop Booker took play close to the line where his front row partner Andy Heys picked up at the back of the ruck and powered over for another 5 points, the conversion being missed again.
Soon after, a break from the Beverley backs fed the ball to their left winger who was tackled too high by inside centre Adam Horsfall leading to a Yellow card and 10 minutes on the sidelines. Beverley finally gained better field position and a penalty for offside resulted in 3 points.
From the restart, Beverley with the extra man immediately put pressure on the Keighley defence leading to a miss kick which went straight to a Beverly hand. Excellent interplay between their forwards and backs took play close to the Keighly line before quick hands spread the ball wide for a try in the corner for Beverley’s excellent number 8 Jack Houseman, the conversion being missed.
Beverley then took the lead with a further penalty on 36 minutes after a deliberate knock on by Alfie Seeley, which saw the Keighley outside centre yellow carded. From the restart the Keighley forwards started to build pressure on the Beverly defence with a series of powerful drives before the ball was spread wide to Blakeley who seemed to have scored an excellent try in the corner, only for it to be ruled out by the referee for a knock on.
The Keighley winger was not to be denied though and from the goal line drop out the Keighley forwards again took the ball deep into home team territory before a superb back row move saw the ball arrive with Blakeley who dived in at the corner to give Keighley a 15 – 11 half time lead.
From the restart a series of powerful drives from the Keighley forwards took play deep into Beverley territory. The ball was spun out to the left, drawing most of the Beverley defence before quick hands took the ball back to Heys who scored his second try under the posts, converted by Alex Brown.
Keighley now seemed well in control, however a dropped ball in midfield was hacked directly into the hands of speedy full back Luke Hazel who eluded the Keighley defence to score a fine try from within his own half. An altercation between a number of players after the try lead to yellow cards for Keighley’s Alex Brown and the try scorer Hazel.
With Brown off the pitch Keighley seemed to lose focus for a while. A dropped ball near halfway lead to some ragged play and a penalty to Beverley which took them close to the Keighley 5 metre line. From the ensuing line out a series of drives resulted in home hooker Andy Meagher being driven over for a converted try that gave Beverley a 23 22 lead. Soon after, a long range penalty by Joey Franklin extended the lead to 26 – 22 with just 15 minutes remaining.
At this point Keighley’s long winning run looked at risk, however Brown's return from the sin bin and a calmer approach saw the visitors dominate the final stages. A fine 50:22 kick from Brown to the corner gave Keighley an attacking line out. Soon after, a series of dominant scrums lead to a fine back row move with Horsfall scoring Keighley’s 5th try, converted again by Brown.
Further tries from Eddie Keighley and Sam Blakely saw Keighley home with what on paper looked a comfortable 41 – 26 win, however Beverley were strong opponents who never gave up, and at one point looked as though they might end Keighley’s recent fine run of results.
No game next week for Keighley but the following Saturday will be possibly the deciding game in Yorkshire Counties Division 1, as 2nd placed Bradford Salem are the visitors on what should be a memorable day at Rose Cottage.
Beverley's Match Report
Two teams with a lot to play for, but for different reasons, Keighley trying to ensure a promotion this time around and Beverley to stay away from the drop zone. Being objective from the start, the away side deserved the win with their bigger pack making the difference all game long. However, the Beavers with large number of players injured or away pushed the league leaders all the way, and indeed led at the 63 minute mark. This was primarily through the efforts of the youngsters Max Bayes, Josh Dillon, Beau English, Archie Harwood, and Logan Mckenzie, who were superb throughout.
The visitors gave notice of what was to come as early as the 7th minute with a catch and drive from a lineout to open the scoring 0-5, and after 25 mins they doubled down on this trusted method as the visitors’ impressive pack drove over again to make the score 0-10. Beverley looked like they were staring down the barrel but from here on in gave as good as they got. Franklin who kicked well all afternoon slotted a penalty after and excellent Jacob Baggs run to make it 3-10. The Beavers then began to get their game going moving the ball through hands for Alex Calvert to make a big hole allowed Jack Houseman to dart over for the try 8-10. Beverley now were exerting pressure and a deliberate knock-on and yellow card for the visitors allowed Franklin to put the Beavers ahead 11-10. Just when it looked like they would hold this lead at the half another set of drives by the forwards allowed the visitors backs to spin the ball wide and score in front of the clubhouse. 11-15 at half time.
Straight from the second half kick off Keighley again showed their excellent interplay between backs and forwards and were again able to get a line out in the Beverley 22. The same result ensued a short range, converted try for the bonus point 11-22. Beverley now though through the hard work of Meagher, Morris and Jenney got some parity at scrum time and the availability of possession let Beverley work their way up field. This resulted in a poor kick under pressure from Keighley to Luke Hazell in space, and as usual he didn’t need any further invite to race over from the half way line 16-22. A late hit after the score and Hazell’s retaliation led to the try scorer and Keighley’s influential 10 Alex Brown being sent to the bin for a 10 minute cool down. This probably benefitted Beverley more as Keighley became ragged and the Beavers upped their game to score next from their own lineout drive with Andy Meagher making the last plunge to get over. Franklin who had kicked well all afternoon added the difficult conversion and then a further penalty from the same spot to put Beverley 26-22 up with just over 15 mins left.
At this point though the return of Brown and a series of Yellow cards for Beverley, reducing them to 13 men at one juncture, and the percussive nature of Keighley’s forward efforts allowed the away team to eventually gain the upper hand. They finally took control of the game and through patient and well controlled use of the ball and field position engineered themselves scoring opportunities close to the Beavers line resulting in two more tries for their forwards from lineouts and reversing the lead and putting clear distance between them and the Beavers 26-36. To their credit Beverley went looking for the consolation bonus points aiming to score the 4th try with Dan Lee and Bayes again going close. It was however the visitors who had the last word with the final score of the match to make it 26-41. Bizarre as it sounds the scoreline did hide one of the Beavers best performances of the season, which was well refereed on by Simon Franks.