Dewsbury Rams 14
Keighley Cougars 0
By Andrew Hunt
DEWSBURY Rams recorded a first win in the Northern Rail Cup to ignite their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages.
The atrocious conditions, with driving rain throughout, meant it was never going to be a spectacle for the hardy souls who braved Tetley’s Stadium and the fluency of the game wasn’t helped as referee Dave Merrick awarded 25 penalties.
However, Rams coach Warren Jowitt will have been delighted with his side’s terrific defensive effort as they nilled their opponents, who had racked up a 42-10 away win last season.
Full-back James Craven had arguably his best game for the club. He was solid under the high ball and looks a real asset going forward, while his excellent effort was capped by a try-saving tackle in the second half.
Props Anthony England and Keegan Hirst had big games, the latter rounding off a fine effort with the match clinching try on his birthday, while back rowers Rob Spicer and James Lockwood were solid to thwart the Keighley pack.
Dominic Brambani slotted over a simple penalty early on and after a period of stalemate, Dewsbury launched an attack.
Hirst drove the Rams downfield into a good position and when they moved the ball right, Craven gathered a one handed pass and charged for the line.
The full-back was hauled down short but the Rams moved back inside and Brambani sent a neat grubber kick behind the Cougars defence and loose forward Josh Tonks pounced to score.
Brambani added the conversion from wide out to put the Rams 8-0 up after 16 minutes.
Dewsbury threatened to extend their lead shortly after as Tonks and the lively Brambani, who switched to stand-off in the absence of Pat Walker, were both held short of the line.
Keighley’s cause wasn’t helped when stand-off Paul Drake was sin-bin for lashing out at Brambani after 37 minutes.
Powerhouse prop James Walker was held close to the posts after the resulting penalty was hammered downfield but Keighley survived when Michael Wainwright’s inside pass was intercepted.
Both packs drove at each other early in the second half before Keighley’s lively scrum-half Ryan Smith threatened to spark a fightback.
Smith darted through a gap and looked a certain try scorer until Craven produced a superb tackle yards from the try line to preserve his side’s advantage.
Craven turned attack into defence with a quickly taken tap on the ‘25 before Tom Wandless broke through a gap but with players in support, the young scrum-half delayed his pass to Ryan Glynn and a chance went begging.
Although Dewsbury had dominated for long spells, the game was still in the balance going into the final 10 minutes. Brambani’s kick close to the line struck a Keighley boot but the stand-off was unable to gather the rebound cleanly.
The Rams finally put the result beyond doubt in the 72nd minute when Hirst latched onto a short pass at pace to crash over for a try next to the posts, which kick-started his birthday celebrations in style. Brambani tagged on the simple goal.
Cougars winger Gavin Duffy did have the chance to reduce the arrears in injury time but he lost the ball diving for the right corner, which summed up an unhappy afternoon for the visitors.
Dewsbury Rams: Craven; Buchanan, Faal, Glynn, Wainwright; Brambani, Wandless; England, Blake, Hirst, Spicer, Lockwood, Tonks. Subs: Menzies, J Walker, Cosgrove, Brooks.
Keighley Cougars: Moss; Duffy, Burton, Lawton, Hutchinson; Drake, Smith; Shickell, Feather, Law, Cartledge, Pursglove, Demitriou. Subs: Wray, Rawlings, Bains, Nicholson.
Referee: Dave Merrick.