Date published: September 05, 2022
Run away Run away Me Me
A determined performance from an injured Rochdale Hornets was not enough as the Keighley Cougars lost 56-24 winners, at Crown Oil Arena.
With just 14 players available, the odds were stacked against the Hornets from the start, but the newly crowned champions were ruthless in how they took advantage of the power play.
The Yorkshire side were also quick on the scoreboard, as Charlie Graham broke the left flank and ran in to score the game’s first try after seven minutes.
Loose striker Billy Gaylor would follow him on the whitewash ten minutes later when he pounced on a misplaced pass deep into Hornets territory.
Graham’s second score followed by a try for Alix Stephenson would then see the visitors take a 20-0 lead after 30 minutes.
But the Hornets fought back through Ben Killan – the loose substitute striker smashed his way to register his third try in as many games.
New Hornets points scorer Cian Tyrer nailed the resulting conversion to close the gap to 14 points at the break.
With the game still in play, the Cougars came out flying in the second 40.
In the first five minutes of the half, Junior Sa’u latched onto a grubber kick from the final tackle before putting Mo Agoro down for his 28th try of the season.
Once again, the Hornets returned to Keighley with NRL legend Fuifui Moimoi battling his way over the try line, to reduce the deficit.
Then a great read from Gregg McNally would see Rochdale score a third try as the former Leigh Centurions man ran in an interception try from 50 yards out.
As the game entered the final quarter, Rhys Lovegrove’s full team bench began to take effect.
In seven minutes, the Cougars ran in three tries, showing all the qualities that made them deserved champions.
The first saw Harvey Spence go from close range, before James Feather scored the final game of his career with a try of his own.
S’au would then double his tally, in brutal fashion, with Jack Miller converting to bring another half-century to Keighley.
The Hornets spirit was evident throughout the contest and, with five minutes to go, Aiden Roden scored brilliantly from the fictional half to get three tries in his last two appearances.
But, as they have done all season, the Lovegrove side had the last laugh as full-back Lewis Young collected his own grubber kick to score a superb individual effort in the final minute of the game .
However, with the limitations imposed on Gary Thornton’s side, the Hornets can be very proud of their performance against the division’s best team – their tally of 24 points is the most against Keighley this season.
Rochdale will hope they can build on that when they host local rivals Oldham next Sunday in a mouth-watering play-off.
Hornets: Tyrer, Birtle, Nixon, Hitchcox, Worrincy, McNally, Rush; Moimoi, Roden, Bennion, Forster, Calland, Killan.
Tries: Killan (33′), Moimoi (52′), McNally (57′), Roden (75′).
Goals: Tyrer, 4/4
Cougars: Young, Agoro, Sa’u, Graham, Stephenson, Chisolm, Miller; Santi, Plume, Parker, Webster, Lévy, Gaylor.
Exchanges: Lynham, Scully, Spence, Everett.
Tries: Graham (7′, 20′), Gaylor (16′), Stephenson (28′), Sa’u (42′, 70′), Agoro (44′), Spence (63′), Feather (66′) ), Young (79′).
Goals: Miller, 8/10