Rochdale Hornets 30 - 42 Keighley Cougars

Date published: 03 May 2024

Rochdale Hornets head coach Gary Thornton made five changes for the home fixture against early season pace-setters Keighley Cougars at the Crown Oil Arena on Sunday afternoon (28 April). Fan favourite Gregg McNally was recalled to the starting thirteen, along with captain Duane Straugheir, Luke Nelmes, Jaden Dayes and Aiden Roden. The latter making his first start since February due to injury.

Keighley started the game well under the Rochdale sunshine and their start was rewarded with a try after five minutes. Billy Walkley was released down the left wing to dive over with Jack Miller adding the extras to give the Cougars an early 0-6 advantage.

The Cougars doubled their lead with just ten minutes played. A wicked spiral kick from Miller was fumbled by Gregg McNally which gave Keighley a penalty 10m out from the Hornets line. An opportunity they took full advantage of as Junior Sa’u, on his 300th career appearance, crossed in the corner. Miller added the two. 0-12.

Two minutes later the Hornets got back into the game. A deftly executed Ridyard kick caused havoc amongst the Keighley defence giving Emmerson Whittel the chance to claim the ball. The Hornets quickly worked it wide to Luke Forber to cross for his first of the afternoon. Ridyard converted. 6-12.

After nineteen minutes, Keighley re-established their two-try lead. Another Hornets error was punished as Sa’u went over for his second. Miller nailed another impressive conversion. 6-18 to the visitors.

Four minutes later, the Hornets got themselves back in the game through that man Forber again. A perfect kick-through from Lewis Else was claimed above Luke Forber’s head before he showed great agility to get the ball down. Ridyard, as usual, converted. 12-18.

After twenty-eight minutes Keighley exploited the Hornets’ right edge again. This time Ellis Robson crashed over to increase their advantage. Miller added the two. 12-24.

The Hornets, looking threatening on most forays forward, became the architects of their own downfall again as the hooter sounded. They made a real hash of a loose ball which gave Walkley the easy task of crossing for his second. Miller converted the score. 12-30 at the halfway stage.

As the second forty got underway, Keighley started it in the same form as the first half. Sa’u secured his hat trick in the corner. Miller converted again. 12-36.

As the game reached the final thirty minutes, the momentum shifted dramatically. Luke Forber secured his hat trick to start things off. Quick hands from Ridyard released our winger down the left to acrobatically cross. Ridyard converted. 18-36.

A matter of seconds later, the Hornets went back-to-back. A superb break from Straugheir presented the opportunity for Jonny Openshaw to dive over and get Hornets back into the game. Ridyard quickly converted. 24-36.

With fifteen left to play, the Hornets narrowed the deficit to one try. Myles Harrop continued the impressive second half showing with a great kick-chase and finish off the back of a Ridyard grubber. Our sharpshooter again converted. 30-36.

The Hornets were inches off getting level soon after. An inch-perfect 40/20 from Ridyard gave Hornets an ideal position where Ben Forster broke through under pressure, but his offload was just intercepted before the on-rushing Rochdale runners could touch down.

Throwing everything at the game now, the Hornets pushed for all their worth against a tiring Cougars rearguard, but it all ended in despair as Adam Ryder intercepted on the last play of the game, racing 80m to touchdown. Miller extended his 100 per cent record from the boot to finish the game off at 30-42.

The spirited second half showing from Rochdale Hornets, who were applauded off the pitch for their supreme effort from the home faithful. The lads will look to put things right next Sunday for the visit of Cornwall, which is the highly awaited Superhero Day at the Crown Oil Arena!

Rochdale Hornets: McNally, Juma, Hartley, Harrop, Forber, Ridyard, Else, Dayes, Roden, Nelmes, Forster, Straugheir, Whittel. Interchanges: Openshaw, Killan, Andrade, Meadows

Tries: Forber (3), Openshaw, Harrop

Goals: Ridyard 5/5

Report by Thomas Pearson

Photos: JMSportPix

Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars


Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars


Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars


Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars


Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars


Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars


Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars


Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars


Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars

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