The Toronto Wolfpack’s tumultuous start to their Super 8s campaign continued after drawing with the sixth-placed Keighley Cougars at Cougar Park. Handling errors and ill-discipline were to blame for Toronto’s disappointing result. Halfback Matty Beharrall orchestrated the Cougars’ impressive result with an astute kicking game, both in general play and landing all five of his goal kicking attempts.
The Wolfpack made a strong start, with star fullback Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e using his pace to draw in two Keighley defenders before passing to an unmarked Jonny Pownall to open the scoring. Keighley responded soon after through centre Hamish Barnes who brought three Toronto defenders over the line. Replays showed Barnes was held up but the officials ruled a try, continuing Toronto’s bad luck with officiating decisions in recent weeks.
Keighley spread the ball on a set move which was poorly defended by the Wolfpack. Numerous defenders burst out of the defensive line and missed their assignments which allowed Keighley to break the line. Winger Vinny Finigan touched down in the corner for an easy finish.
Toronto regained their focus and scored three unanswered tries in quick succession. Laulu-Togaga’e scored after backing up on a line break from back rower Richard Whiting. Laulu-Togaga’e broke the line and ran 50 metres from a dummy half scoot which set up a try for Liam Kay on the next play. Whiting scored himself just before halftime after bursting onto a short ball from Scottish international Ryan Brierley. The Wolfpack led 22-12 at halftime.
Knowing they had to be next to score to stay in the contest, Keighley scored through fullback Richie Hawkyard who backed up on a line break by Adam Brook. Keighley looked primed to regain the lead with multiple consecutive sets attacking Toronto’s line, but an errant pass was intercepted by Jonny Pownall who ran 90 metres before being tackled, but Greg Worthington scored for Toronto on the next play in the opposite corner.
It looked as though the Wolfpack had the game wrapped up, but after running the ball on the last tackle Finigan broke Toronto’s line 40 metres out from the try line. One on one with Laulu-Toagaga’e and with no support Finigan kicked for himself into Toronto’s in-goal area and won the race to the ball. The try and ensuing conversion cut Toronto’s lead to 2 points and set the stage for a grandstand finish.
With one minute remaining in the game and being held to halfway by Toronto’s defence, Beharrall chipped for himself and was brought down by a Toronto defender. The referee ruled a penalty for Keighley, who opted to shoot for 2 in an attempt to draw the game. Beharrall made the penalty kick from 35 metres out and in front of the goal posts.
The Wolfpack are still positioned to achieve automatic promotion from the Super 8s round but will want to halt the negative momentum. They have a crucial match up at home against Newcastle Thunder next, who gave them a tough match in the regular season. The draw brings Keighley within 2 competition points of the top 5.
Toronto Wolfpack 26
Tries: Pownall (7), Laulu-Togaga’e (26), Kay (31), Whiting (36), Worthington (54).
Goals: Hall 3/5
Keighley Cougars 26
Tries: Barnes (11), Finigan (17, 72), Hawkyard (48)
Goals: Beharrell (5/5)