By Clive Harrison at Cougar Park
IN the battle of the Cougar packs at Cougar Park it was no contest as the home team took charge from the opening whistle to inflict an overwhelming defeat on their visitors from South Wales.
In atrocious conditions it was Cardiff who had the wind and driving rain at their backs for the first half of the game. If these conditions could be considered as a leveling factor one can only speculate what the outcome may have been had it been dry.
The Welshmen arrived at Cougar Park in good heart but it was a Welshman in the Keighley side who spoiled their day.
Welsh International Jason Lee started like a house on fire with a hat trick of tries within eleven minutes of the kick-off and only an injury fter the break ended his attempt on the club’s tries-in-a-game record.
The conditions obviously played a big part in the game but Cardiff just did not have the experience to capitalise in the first period.
Instead it was Keighley who took charge and Lee used his speed and pportunism to score his three tries near the corner flag. Martin Wood had a thankless task trying to convert into a howling gale and his first effort almost returned to the point he had kicked it from.
The game was effectively over almost as soon as it had begun, although Cardiff did have their moments.
Scrum-half Neil Davies went close to scoring after 16 minutes but the wind took his kick over the Keighley dead ball line just before he reached it.
Unfortunately, Cardiff’s threats were few and far between as Max Tomlinson, Steve Pickles, Lee, again, Wood and Nathan Antonik added further tries, five of which Wood converted, one a magnificent effort from the touchline, to give Keighley an unassailable 42-point lead at the interval.
The second period was no different although Keighley now had the elements in their favour. Tomlinson notched a second try, Jason Ramshaw touched down and Ian Hughes also got into the act, Wood converting two, before Cardiff at last threatened the Keighley line.
Chris Davey, who worked hard all afternoon, made good ground into the Keighley half which resulted in Richard Hodges and Davey himself both being held inches short of the Keighley line.
Unfortunately for Cardiff that pressure left gaps in the Cardiff defence and Keighley quickly took play down to the other end of the field and Wood sprinted to the line from 40 metres out.
Wood converted his own try and five minutes later Karl Smith touched down near the corner flag from Richard Smith’s pass.
It then became something of a procession as Antonik bagged a further brace of tries, Paul Harrison stormed over near the corner flag and Paul Owen darted over between the posts. With Wood converting three it really was a massive victory for the Keighley Cougars.
To their credit the Cardiff Cougars fought to the end and received resounding applause from the hardy crowd who had braved the elements to witness this Challenge Cup tie.
GAMEBREAKER: Jason Lee’s hat-trick of tries within eleven minutes of the kick off created a handicap too great for the Cardiff Cougars.
GAMESTAR: Martin Wood created the opportunities for an overwhelming Keighley victory and earned himself a bagful of points into the bargain.
1 Paul Owen
2 Max Tomlinson
3 James Rushforth
4 Karl Smith
5 Jason Lee
6 Martin Wood
7 Nathan Antonik
8 Michael Slicker
9 Jason Ramshaw
10 Alan Boothroyd
11 Paul Harrison
12 Ian Hughes
13 Steve Pickles
14 Richard Smith for K Smith (40)
15 Steve Hall for Slicker (29)
16 Phil Stephenson for Boothroyd (29)
17 Ben Thompson for Pickles (48)
K. Smith for Lee (54)
Slicker for Hall (67)
Tries: Lee (2, 9, 11, 30), Tomlinson (17, 41), Pickles (21), Wood (34, 60),
Antonik (38, 67, 70), Ramshaw (47), Hughes (49), K Smith (65), Harrison
(73), Owen (75)
Goals: Wood 11
1 Ceri Bushnell
2 Scott Bennett
3 Rhodri Thomas
4 Ian McIntyre
5 Damian Lawler
6 Scott O’Kelly
7 Neil Davies
8 Richard Hodges
9 Miles Davies
10 Paul Davey
11 Chris Davey
12 Mark Dando
13 Craig Millard
14 Rich Singleton for Bennett (13)
15 Peter Gooding for Paul Davey (22)
16 Wayne Williams for M Davies (40)
17 Patrick Davey for Dando (62)
Paul Davey for Williams (44)
League Express Men of the Match
Keighley: Martin Wood
Cardiff: Chris Davey
Penalty count: 1-7
Referee: Ron Laughton (Barnsley)