Keighley second-row Josh Lynam’s try on his 21st birthday helped Cougars secure a well-deserved opening-day victory over Whitehaven.
Former Bradford playmaker Cain Southernwood was taken out off the ball in Whitehaven’s first set. The resulting penalty saw the half-back kick for goal to put his side two points up.
Cougars replied as James Feather sent a short pass to Sean Hesketh, who powered his way over the line.
Keighley extended their advantage shortly after. Once again attacking on the back of a penalty, Paul Handforth produced a delicate grubber kick, which Scott Law read to perfection on his way to touching the ball down.
A loose carry by Scott McAvoy saw the centre gift the ball to a thankful Elliot Cosgrove, who then found March in support to finish things off.
Gardner skipped past two defenders close to the line before stepping through James Craven, back on the inside, for a Whitehaven score.
A break from Daley Williams saw the centre stopped just short of the line, but the damage had already been done.
From the next play, March played a swooping ball out wide, giving Cosgrove a clear pathway to cross.
Whitehaven then clawed their way back into bonus point territory, as Jesse Joe Parker shrugged off Williams’s attempted tackle before diving in for a try.
Any chance of a comeback was snuffed out, though, when Lynam went over for the try to secure the win for the home side. Paul White’s late try then put the icing on the cake for March’s men.
Keighley Cougars: Craven; Barnett, Williams, Cosgrove, White; March, Handforth; Shickell, Feather, Hesketh, Lynam, Rawlins, Sagar. Substitutes: Law, Cherryholme, Lee, Peltier.
Whitehaven: Carr; Calvert, McAvoy, Fox, Gardner; Taylor, Southernwood; Culnean, Newton, Jackson, Tarahoui, Mitchell, Doran. Substitutes: Parker, Thorman, Hand, Marabe.
Referee: G Stokes (RFL).