Cougars prove to be streets ahead of tenacious Strela

Keighley Cougars 62 Strela Kazan 14

Keighley easily overcame their Russian opponents, the Cougars proving too experienced, too streetwise and at times too quick for enthusiastic but naive Strela Kazan.

The Cougars only struggled when they took their foot off the gas with a lead of 28-0.

Once Keighley full-back Matt Bramald had crossed for the first of his four tries in the sixth minute there was only going to be one winner.

Matt Foster, Phil Stephenson and Matt Firth all crossed to help establish a 28-0 lead in the first 24 minutes.

Strela kept going and were rewarded with two quick tries of their own.

Teenage winger Max Keller was first to pounce onto a crossfield kick then hooker Alex Napalkov collected his own little kick through for their second, which was converted by stand-off Rinat Chamsoutdinov to make it 28-10.

The best try of the half came four minutes before the break when the Cougars’ winter signing from Leeds Rhinos, prop Lewis Taylor, ran in superbly from halfway. Paul Ashton added his fifth conversion and the Cougars led 34-10 at the interval.

The home side failed to complete their first five sets of the second half and had to wait until the 50th minute for their next try, Bramald going over out wide. Five minutes later Jon Wainhouse went over from acting half before Taylor ran in a devastating 70-metre effort to score the try of the game, Ashton’s conversion bringing up the half century.

Bramald went on to complete his hat-trick before Strela got their third try, winger Keller going over out wide. With four minutes to go Bramald sealed the man-of-the-match award by following up Andy Robinson’s break to score a try converted by Adam Mitchell.

Keighley Cougars: Bramald; Beaver, D Foster, M Foster, Robinson; Ashton, Firth; Stephenson, Wainhouse, Murgatroyd, Ross, Steel, Harvey. Substitutes (all used): Mitchell, Rushforth, Taylor, Clegg.

Strela Kazan: Sokolov; Safin, Yusupov, Artemenko, Keller; Chamsoutdinov, Makarov; Chulkov, Napalkov, Zaynutdinov, Akhmetshin, Kuzovkov, Romanov. Substitutes: Gabdullazyanov, Musin, Valiullin, Bulankin.

Referee: J-P Boulagnon (France).