Sunday 21st of May 1995
(at Old Trafford)
COUGARS 26 – HUDDERSFIELD 6
Glorious Cougars put on a stunning Old Trafford show – and the showed the world that they’re ready for the big boys.
Make no mistake about it; this is the golden age of Keighley Rugby League.
Two trophies in one season including the club’s first ever knockout win, fantastic is the only word for it.
Remember the 1994-95 season with relish. It was the year the Cougars family came good, the people of the town he should feel proud of the club and proud of their team.
A bunch of semi-professional rugby players have brought real pride that the town and a new confidence to the whole district.
The win at old Trafford was a fairy tale ending to a great, great year.
But it looked decidedly dodgy for little while at least.
Huddersfield have matched the Cougars all season, and for the first 20 minutes they looked likely to come out on top. Only true grit, when they were 6-0 down pulled the Cougars through. If ever there was a time by gritting their teeth and getting stuck in this was it, and the Cougars his didn’t let anyone down.
Over the first quarter Huddersfield completely dominated a nervous looking Keighley side. They made the Cougars commit errors -five in all – and concede penalties.
Greg Pearce converted two of the penalties and drop goals from Steve Kerry and Greg Austin gave them an early lead.
Determination and discipline from the Keighley side made certain that was the last time the Fartown side troubled the scorers.
Simon Irving landed a penalty after 30 minutes and the game turned. Cougars were on a role and their momentum became unstoppable. Forwards Ian Gately and Darren Fleary started to make hard yards in the centre of the field and Darren Appleby broke through to send Martin Wood in under the posts.
Irving converted and the atmosphere, on and off the field, changed. The impressive Jason Ramshaw landed and drop goal and suddenly victory looked on the cards. Ramshaw again came up trumps right on behalf of time hooter, tackling the huge Aussie prop David King over line and turning him on his back, ably assisted by Appleby and Wood to stop him making a try. A half time lead was I shall had an approved to be a huge psychological boost.
There was only one side in it after the break. Huddersfield only threatened with late breakaway efforts, but were still not allowed through.
Gareth Cochrane gave the Cougars is the perfect start, slipping an impressive pass to Nick Pinkney after only two minutes and the speed merchant was away. He streaked into the corner from 35-yards and Irving added a brilliant conversion.
Eight minutes later Daryl Powell jinked his way over after more good work from Wood and the Keighley fans knew what the game was in the bag.
That feeling was reinforced by a crucial tackle on the ever the threatening Greg Austin by both Andre Stoop and Irving, and the Cougars began to turn o the style..
Stoop was flying and had the line at his mercy as he swooped onto Appleby’s pass after a tremendous breake, but it was ruled a centimetre forward. Minutes later Wood and Ramshaw broke away, a try was denied, but Dean Hanger ended up in the sin-bin for holding down after the tackle.
With Huddersfield down to 12 men Powell found gap after gap and from their run down the right flank, making enough room for Ramshaw to send Eyres in at the corner to complete a classic wingers try, jinking over with only inches to spare.
Irving again converted from the line, and it was party time with the final icing on the cake coming from Ramshaw’s boot. His or towering 35 metre drop goal rubbed salt into Huddersfield and sent up a Cougars roar which could be heard on the other side of the Pennines.
But the biggest cheer of the afternoon came in the dying seconds. Hanger’s break sent former Cougar Austin racing away for what looked like a certain score. You would have put your mortgage on him making the line, but a brilliant tackle from Stoop stopped him in his tracks, and the final Hooter sealed victory.
There were many outstanding performances, Martin Wood won the Tom Bergin man of the match award, but it could have been Powell, Fleary, Gately or Tupaea. Nobody in the team was less than excellent, and for that coach Phil Larder deserves tremendous credit, he has turned good players into great players and moulded them into a team ready to take on the best.