YORK Knights slipped to their third consecutive Betfred Championship defeat tonight, as they were beaten 22-10 by Keighley Cougars at the LNER Community Stadium.

Cougars half-back Dane Chisholm again came back to haunt the Knights, with his equalising try paving the way for the visitors to score twice in a devastating three-minute spell at the beginning of the second half to record their first win at York since May 2012.

Despite having taken the lead inside the opening 10 minutes, York were not helped by injuries to Conor Fitzsimmons, Danny Kirmond and Liam Harris, and looked a little off the pace, spent of energy after their mammoth effort to hold on to their 24-22 Challenge Cup victory against much-fancied Sheffield Eagles on Sunday.

And they were further hampered by an, at times, unplayable Keighley left edge, with 18-year-old Hull KR loanee Connor Barley having a torrid night against the highly impressive ex-Leeds Rhinos centre Jimmy Keinhorst and former Man of Steel Luke Gale.

Head coach Andrew Henderson was however left pleased by his side’s defensive effort in the final 20 minutes to prevent any further Keighley scores, with both Myles Harrison and half-back Matty Marsh making sensational try-saving tackles close to their line in the dying stages.

Henderson named an unchanged starting line-up from Sunday’s Challenge Cup thriller, with the Knights’ only change coming on the bench with the return of the injured Jon Luke Kirby in place of Ireland international prop Ronan Michael, who dropped to the 18th man.

By contrast, the Cougars named a much-changed line-up from their comfortable victory over Betfred League One outfit North Wales Crusaders in the competition, with ex-Leigh Centurians, Castleford Tigers and Hull KR winger Ben Crooks, Gale and Chisholm among those to make a welcome return to the side.

Both teams struggled to make it past the halfway line in a cagey opening to proceedings, which set the tone for a first half in which there was little to separate the two sides.

However, it was the Knights who drew first blood after six minutes, owing much of the move to full-back Joe Brown, who had intercepted the ball and raced forward to halfway.

York then switched the play left to Bailey Antrobus, the Welsh prop showing superb strength to dive over the line to the left of the sticks to open the scoring. Glover added the extras for the only time.

Former Heworth youngster AJ Towse thought that he had doubled his side’s lead after grounding the loose ball into the right corner as the Knights appeared to have picked up from where they had impressively left off against Sheffield in the minutes that followed.

The Knights barely allowed Keighley to cross into their attacking half as Robbie Storey was bundled into touch down the wing, before Mo Agoro, top try-scorer in Keighley’s League One Invincibles season last year, was chased down within metres of his in-goal area after collecting Harris’ high kick.

However, York were dealt the first of three injury blows just before the midway point of the opening half, as Fitzsimmons was helped from the field by the physios after a heavy tackle, to be replaced by Jack Teanby.

Keighley drew level just three minutes later, Chisholm weaving through a string of attempted tackles to cross to the right of the posts, half-back partner Gale notching the first of three conversions to bring the scores level.

The visitors had an effort ruled out for a forward pass before completing the first half turnaround on the 25-minute mark as Jordan Thompson was stripped off the ball in a tackle, with Crooks the grateful beneficiary as he overlapped to cross into the left corner.

Towse produced a fantastic tackle to bundle Crooks into touch before Marsh’s grubber kick was fingertips away from being grounded into the left corner, but York could not capitalise on their field position, finding themselves with a four-point deficit at the interval.

Despite losing veteran Kirmond at half-time, York again started the better of the two sides after the break, winning a drop-out under the sticks as Agoro was tackled in-goal, before Harrison was bundled into touch inches shy of the corner flag.

But the Knights again failed to make their attacks count, instead finding themselves with a long way back into the tie after conceding twice in three minutes.

First, Keighley drove forward at pace from Harris’ kick, sending the impressive Keinhorst over the whitewash down the left edge, before a short pass saw former Leigh Centurians prop Mark Ioane bundle his way over the line.

Both of Gale’s conversions proved successful, his boot helping to fire the Cougars into a 6-22 advantage with 25 minutes left to play.

But York struck back just after the hour mark, Harris dummying past Gale and crossing to the right of the sticks, only to be substituted in the aftermath, having sustained a nasty facial injury in the act of scoring the try.

That try only served to galvanise Keighley, who continued to place the Knights’ defensive line under sustained pressure, taking advantage of the hosts’ lack of a recognisable half-back.

Keinhorst came close to his second try of the evening after racing through a gap in the York line before switching the play left to Crooks, with Kirby then fumbling Chisholm’s kick-chase, but the Knights did just enough to prevent any further scores.

Keighley however, appeared not to be content with their 12-point advantage, Gale attempting two drop goals, the first of which appeared to have sailed through the posts only to be pulled back by referee Nick Bennett, before seeing his second effort cannon off the left post.

A deep kick collected by Towse on the hooter proved to be the last of the evening’s action, with the Knights hopeful of claiming their first Championship win since March 5 at Halifax Panthers next Sunday (3pm).

YORK KNIGHTS: Brown, Towse, Glover, Barley, Harrison, Marsh, Harris, Antrobus, Jubb, Fitzsimmons, Field, Kirmond, Thompson.

INTERCHANGES: Kirby, Daley, Teanby, Ta’ai, Michael

TRIES: Antrobus (7), Harris (62)

GOALS: Glover 1/2

KEIGHLEY COUGARS: Young, Agoro, Storey, Keinhorst, Crooks, Chisholm, Gale, Santi, Doyle, Ioane, Robson, Gibbons, Spence.

INTERCHANGES: Parker, Everett, Levy, Roby.

TRIES: Chisholm (20), Crooks (25), Keinhorst (50), Ioane (53)

GOALS: Gale 3/6


POINTS SEQUENCE: 4-0, 6-0, 6-4, 6-6, 6-10, 6-14, 6-16, 6-20, 6-22, 10-22

YORK’S STAR MAN: Bailey Antrobus was characteristically impressive once again against Keighley, and the Knights will do well to hold on to him after this season.

REFEREE: Nick Bennett