Bradford Bulls v Keighley Cougars

Bradford Bulls 22 v 18 Keighley Cougars (Joe Phillips Memorial Trophy)

Keighley Cougars returned to action this afternoon for the first time in three hundred and seventy days, as they travelled to the Tetley Stadium to face local rivals Bradford Bulls in the Joe Phillips Memorial Trophy. Rhys Lovegrove (Cougars Head Coach) named a thirty man squad, which included a piece of history as a father and son lined up alongside each other in Cougars colours for the first time in the shape of Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e and his 17 year old son Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e, the full-back on trial from Leicester Tigers.

Bradford Bulls started the stronger of the two sides and took the lead on five minutes as Tom Doyle spotred a gap in the Keighley Cougars line before forcing his way over the line for the first try of the match making the score 4-0. A minutes later, it was Danny Brough who converted to increase the lead to 6-0.

On eight minutes, the home side increased their lead even further as Danny Brough Scored his first try in the colours of Bradford Bulls. Having collected the ball he managed to dance around the Keighley Cougars defence, before touch down and extending the lead to 10-0. Brough then placed the ball and converted for the second time in the game to make it 12-0.

The visitors then had some good possession on fourteen minutes as they looked to get on the scoreboard. But some excellent defending from the Bradford Bulls backline forced an error by the visitors and the home side regained the ball on their own twenty meter line.

On seventeen minutes, the Bulls should have extended their lead When Reece Hamlett strolled through the Cougars defence for another try, but his celebrations are short lived as the referee spotted a forward pass and disallowed the try. Just two minutes later, Danny Brough once again dropped a dangerous ball in behind which is dealt with by Keighley.

Cougars, started to get a foot hold in the match on twenty-five minutes as Jason Muranka broke free of the Bradford defence and went over the line for a try, only to see the referee disallow the try for offside. The turning point of the first-half came two minutes later as Charlie Graham intercepted a long pass over the top before going sixty metres to touch down behind the posts, making the score 12-4 before Jack Miller added the conversion a minutes later to make the score 12-6.

The visitors, now full of confidance added a second try on thirty minutes as a Billy Gaylor kick was caught by the wind and collected by Jack Arnold he takes it on before breaking and then offloading the ball back to Billy Gaylor who went over the line to make the score, Jack Miller converted for the second time in the match leveling the score.

In the final minute of the half, the visitors were on top and after winning two penalties Keighley moved from their own twenty meters line to the Bulls twenty meter line. The visitors looked set to add to the scoreline but Brandon Pickersgill regathered the ball to stop the attack leaving the half-time score level at 12-12.

Bradford Bulls head coach John Kear was very disappointed with the final ten minutes of the first-half following a number of errors, which allowed the visitors to score two tries and bring themselves level and back into the match. Bradford made a number of changes at the interval bringing on Jack Sanderson, David Foggin-Johnston and Billy Jowitt replacing Joe Brown, Reece Hamlett and Elliott Wallis.

Some sloppy play at the start of the second-half put the visitors on the back foot as the Cougars were penalised on their own line for interference. Just two minutes into the half the home side moved the ball from right to left and smart play sent Ross Oakes over the line to make the score 16-12.

On fifty-seven minutes, worrying scenes as Alix Stephenson has gone down with an ackle injury and the medical team have immediately called for oxygen and the stretcher. After a period of treatment, Stephenson was stretchered from the field of play and taken to a local hospital for further treatment on his injury.

Stephenson’s injury seemed to effect the visitors and just four minutes after the restart the Bulls added to the scoreline. Danny Brough made a short pass to Anthony Walker who passed the Cougars defence and over the line to score another try making the score 20-12. Once again the home side scored the conversion as Billy Jowitt struck the ball through the posts to make the score 22-12.

Just as they did in the first-half, the home side relaxed and again allowed the visitors back into the match. On seventy-four minutes, after three consecutive sets on the Bulls line they make the pressure count as Charlie Graham fbreaks through a gap to score a try and make the score 22-16. Alfie Seeley added the conversion to give the visitors a further two points making the full-time score 22-18, giving the Bulls win the Joe Phillips Memorial Trophy.

Both teams will now turn their focus to the start of the new 2021 season, which starts next weekend with the Challenge Cup (1st Round). Keighley Cougars face the London Broncos at Rosslyn Park in the capital, whilst Bradford Bulls travel to the Millennium Stadium in Pontefract to take on Featherstone Rovers.

Match Details

Bradford Bulls – Brough, Brown, Burton, Calland, Crossley, Doyle, England, Evans, Flanagan, Fleming, Foggin-Johnston, Gallagher, Hamlett, Ho, Jowitt, Lilley, Nzoungou, Oakes, Pickersgill, Rooks, Sanderson, Scurr, Walker, Wallis

Tries – Doyle, Brough, Oakes, Walker Goals – Brough 2/3 Jowitt 1/1

Keighley Cougars – Q.Laulu-Togaga’e, Agoro, Prell, Matamosi, Miller, Coventry, Kesik, Muranka, Desmond-Walker, Parker, Levy, Wright, Murrell, Hawksworth, Gaylor, Santi, Seeley, Stephenson, Bailey, Moran, Stead, Darbyshire, Arnold, Lynam, Braham, Robinson, Graham, Scully, Slingsby, P.Laulu-Togaga’e

Tries – Graham (2), Gaylor Goals – Arnold 2/2 Seeley 1/1

Attendance – 0 (Behind Closed Doors)

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