Match report by Michael Hale
THE final score line may have been comfortable, but make no mistake about it, Toronto Wolfpack were rattled at Cougar Park.
But they have retained their position at the top of the Kingstone Press League 1 with a victory that ultimately was comfortable, but which was undeniably hard fought.
The star of the show was undoubtedly the Wolfpack winger Jonny Pownall, who scored a hat-trick of tries and is playing with great confidence.
Having taken an early 8-0 lead, it looked like business as usual for the Canadian team. But they soon found themselves trailing for the first time in their competitive history.
A couple of soft tries let Toronto back in before they professionally and comprehensively saw out the game.
Cougars coach Craig Lingard was left with mixed emotions after his team missed out on a chance to make history.
“We were two scores up in the second half and we didn’t close the game out so we’ve got to learn from that,” he said.
“We’ve got to take a massive amount of confidence from it. We’ve always said we can score points and if we can score points against a defence who are as tough and mean as Toronto’s then we should do alright as the season progresses.”
Keighley started on top but it was the Wolfpack who took the lead with Jonny Pownall touching down in the corner.
Toronto were far from having everything their own way in a much-improved display from their hosts as Dan Fleming was sent to the sinbin for punching.
The referee controversially stopped Adam Ryder bringing Keighley onto the scoreboard as he gave a knock-on when it looked like the centre had simply picked up a loose Wolfpack pass.
Inevitably, the 12-men Toronto extended their lead minutes later as Liam Kay dived on a grubber in the corner.
Ryder then broke through the Toronto line and offloaded to Josh Lynam to deservedly bring the hosts onto the board.
Beharrell’s conversion was added to by a penalty goal moments later to level proceedings at 8-8.
The Keighley number seven was on target again two minutes before the break with a field-goal as Wolfpack trailed a competitive game for the first time since they were formed.
Unbelievably, Keighley extended their lead a matter of seconds into the second half as the kick-off was fumbled and Lynam capitalised to score his second try of the game.
Blake Wallace darted through to make it a one-point game once again with Craig Hall’s conversion.
And Pownall broke from deep inside his own half to wrestle the lead back for the Wolfpack three minutes later.
Hall then capitalised on some sloppy play from the Cougars to edge the visitors further in front.
Pownall was soon over for his hat-trick before Beharrell got over for a deserved score.
Adam Sidlow’s double, either side of Andrew Dixon’s try, saw the Wolfpack end with a flurry, but their coach Paul Rowley admitted it was his side’s most frustrating outing yet.
“They’re all tough for different reasons,” commented Rowley.
“This was tough in that it was the most frustrating, partly due to Keighley’s good play.
“Keighley did a good job on us and let us off the hook. They gave us an opportunity to get back in and we took it. I think our completion rate was at 35% [completion rate] at half time, which is a horrific percentage.
“The rucks were very slow and we were heavily penalised. We went a little soft but we still got the win.
“We have a week off next week and we are ready for the break, which will be very welcome.
22 Ritchie Hawkyard
26 Vinny Finigan
3 Josh Casey
32 Adam Ryder
2 Andy Gabriel
16 Will Milner
7 Matty Beharrell
8 Scott Law
9 James Feather
23 Fran Welsh
11 Josh Lynam
18 Josh Tonks
13 Mike Emmett
12 Brendon Rawlins
14 Adam Brook
19 Matthew Bailey
29 Brad Nicholson
Tries: Lynam (28), Nicholson (41)
Goals: Beharrell 4/4
Field Goal: Beharrell
1 Quetin Laulu-Togagae
2 Jonny Pownall
14 Gary Wheeler
4 Craig Hall
5 Liam Kay
6 Blake Wallace
7 Rhys Jacks
21 Adam Sidlow
9 Bob Beswick
29 Jacob Emmitt
11 Andrew Dixon
12 James Laithwaite
10 Dan Fleming
Tries: Pownall (8, 49, 58), Kay (22), Wallace (46), Hall (52), Sidlow (71, 80), Dixon (73)
Goals: Hall (6/9)
Half-time: 9 – 8
Full-time: 21 -48
Referee: Andy Sweet
Man of the Match: Jonny Pownall scored a superb hat-trick for the Wolfpack and Wolfpack fans should be looking forward to seeing him when he appears at Lamport Stadium.
SCORING SEQUENCE: 0-4, 0-8, 6-8, 8-8, 9-8; 15-8, 15-14, 15-20, 15-26, 15-30, 21-30, 21-36, 21-42, 21-48.
Air Transat 3 Stars
Images From The Match
This match report has been presented in association with the English weekly newspaper League Express.