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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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In-form Haven can’t slide past motivated Keighley

HAVEN produced a cracking performance against a highly-motivated Keighley that should augur well for their forthcoming play-off clash at Doncaster.

Keighley possibly had more to play for, as they were chasing a second-place finish in Championship One, but Haven did not lack motivation, either.

They tackled as if their lives depended on it in the opening 20 minutes, absorbing heavy pressure from the hosts, who were playing down the slope.

Chris Baines scored 20 points for the Cougars, from a try and eight goals, but player-coach Jason Demetriou, the ex-Wakefield star, was the main difference between the teams, showing he still possesses an eye for a gap.

Most of the early action was at Haven’s end of the pitch, Andreas Bauer coolly defusing Demetriou’s low angled kick behind his line.

The formidable pairing of Paul King and Lee Doran then dispossessed James Feather as he dived for the whitewash.

And Luke Isakka produced a great tackle on Baines as he charged for the line, again dislodging the ball.

When Haven’s first chance of points came on 18 minutes they took it, Carl Rudd landing a penalty and following up with a second, four minutes later.

But on their next set, Matthew Haggarty moved off the mark and Baines made him pay with a penalty goal.

The marksman was again on target on 29 minutes to level matters. And when he slotted a third penalty, two minutes from half-time, it seemed Keighley would hold a slender lead at the break.

But great feet from Demetriou saw him step through the Haven line in his own half on a fantastic run before finding Will Cartledge, who crashed over from short range, Baines converting to make it 12-4.

Haven looked set to strike back in the opening exchanges of the second-half, hooker Chris Smith earning a penalty and then putting Lee Doran in for a try, only for ref Jamie Leahy to rule a forward pass.

The visitors did not have long to wait for a score, however, great offloading leading to McAvoy losing his marker in his own half.

As he sprinted for the line, Calvert ran an inside line and McAvoy found his winger with the pass for a try. Rudd converted to reduce the deficit to two points.

But an error from the restart, with two players virtually colliding, led to the ball being accidentally grounded in-goal.

And on the next set, when Demetriou was held down in front of Haven’s sticks, he tossed the ball to Baines, who obliged with a penalty goal.

Haven were again made to pay for an error from the restart, the ball sailing dead. They failed to deal with Demetriou’s cross-field kick on the next set and Cartledge crossed out wide, Baines adding the extras.

The Cumbrians refused to give in, and when Rudd’s pass found McAvoy on the hour-mark, he ploughed through a couple of defenders to score.

Baines showed he could score tries as well as kick goals when he put daylight between the sides on 63 minutes, though Demetriou was again the inspiration with a strong run down the middle.

If nothing else, Kurt Wilton showed he can cut it at first-team level for Haven, and his try on 70 minutes was a great effort.

Taking Howard Hill’s short offload with around 80 metres ahead of him, the back-rower set off on a powerful run to the line, holding off the cover.

Rudd goaled to keep his side within a converted try of a draw, but yet again, Haven were the authors of their misfortune from the re-start, a loose pass ruled forward. A Baines penalty moments later put the issue beyond doubt.

Haven fought to the end, Carl Sice producing a great angled run to the line, only for his speculative pass over the top to go to a defender.

Keighley had secured a second-place finish. But there is still life in this Haven team. Their sudden death clash at Doncaster should be a stormer.

Match facts

Haven: Benson, Calvert, McAvoy, Beattie, Bauer, Gerrard, Rudd, Hill, Sice, King, Doran, Isakka, Wilton. Subs: C Smith, Farrer, Haggarty, S Miller.

Tries: Calvert, McAvoy, Wilton.

Goals: Rudd 4.

Cougars: Moss, Lawton, Sagar, Normington, Halley, Demetriou, Coleman, Shickell, Feather, Law, Cartledge, Pursglove, Baines. Subs: Wray, Benjafield, Rawlins, Jones.

Tries: Cartledge 2, Baines.

Goals: Baines 8.

Attendance: 964.

Referee: Jamie Leahy.

Star Man: Scott McAvoy.

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