MATCH REPORT – Newcastle Thunder 40 – 12 Keighley Cougars

Newcastle Thunder took a second successive victory over Keighley Cougars in Betfred League 1 on Sunday afternoon, with a superb 40-12 win at Kingston Park Stadium.

In front of a crowd of 1,423, and as stalwart Joe Brown set a new appearance record, Thunder proved more than a match for one of the competition’s form teams, with superb defensive organisation and precision in attack giving them the platform on which to take a hugely important win.   

Thunder set their stall out early with hugely impressive opening sets in attack and defence, with their first set with the ball taking them deep into the Cougars 20 and their first without restricting the visitors to their own side of half-way.

After a largely even start, Thunder raced ahead on the scoreboard with three well-taken tries during the course of 10 minutes as they made the most of their aggressive start.

A change of direction from Keal Carlile at the play the ball set in motion the move for the day’s opening score, as the hooker caught the Keighley defence off guard.

Allowing Thunder to move the ball through the hands out to the wing, with Mo Agoro on hand to finish with a dive for the line for the day’s opening try. Marginet nailed the touchline conversion.

Jared Blanke’s break of the line six minutes later was followed by the big front row showing some deft handling skills to slip the ball away and cause panic in the visitors’ defence.

Marginet’s repeat of the trick on the next pass did what it needed and created an overlap, superbly exploited by Kieran Gill.

When the Cougars put their kick off out on the full, Thunder inflicted maximum punishment as their mercurial Frenchman was put into a gap to scamper over from 20m out and give his side a handsome 16-0 lead.

Seemingly cruising, a flare-up between Thunder’s Rhys Clarke and Keighley’s James Beckett, that saw both players sent to the sin-bin, provided the Cougars with some steel which they used to hit back with two converted tries of their own towards the end of the half.

With just a four-point lead at the break, Thunder faced a determined start from Cougars and had to ride out some sustained pressure, before the afforded themselves greater breathing space as Cook Island international Carne Doyle-Manga crashed over from short range.

Despite continuing to probe deep into the Cougars half Thunder errors and indiscipline were allowing Keighley to breath frequent sighs of relief, so much so that when a kickable penalty was awarded with 18 minutes to go, Marginet opted to slot the easy two and take the hosts up to a 12 point lead.

Having been matched for most of the second half, when Thunder re-discovered their rhythm, they did so in style with three tries and two conversions to seal the result.

The pick came with eight minutes to go as second row Conor Fitzsimmons plucked a Cougars kick through, out of the air and fed the onrushing Kieran Gill into a huge hole and with the centre up to full chat, there was no one to stop him from scorching to the line.

The final gloss was added by Doyle-Manga and Agoro with their second scores of the day, as Thunder made it four games unbeaten and maintained pace at the top of the League 1 table  

Newcastle Thunder

Lewis Young, Mo Agoro, Kieran Gill, Joe Brown, Alex Cleggm Dan Coates, Remy Marginet, Liam McAvoy, Keal Carlile, Jared Blanke, Conor Fitzsimmons, Rhys Clarke, Sam Luckley, Alex Rowe, Jack Aldous, Carne Doyle-Manga, Evan Simons

Try Scorers: Agoro (9, 80) Gill (16, 72) Marginet (19) Doyle-Manga (48, 76)

Goals: Marginet 6/8

Sin Bin – Clarke (20)

Keighley Cougars

Alfred Seeley, David Dixon, William Cooke, Macauley Hallett, Matthew Welham, Dan Parker, Jack Miller, Matthew Bailey, James Feather, Jamie Thackray, Josh Lynam, Jason Muranka, James Beckett, Jack Coventry, Chris Cullimore, Jack Arnold, Harvey Hallas

Try Scorers: Miller (29) Dixon (32)

Goals: Miller 2/2

Sin Bin – Beckett (20)

Attendance – 1,423