Halifax survived a scare against their local rivals before finally booking their place in the next round of the Co-operative Championship play-offs with Lee Paterson’s try seconds from full-time.
The centre scored on the right to break a 24-24 deadlock and set up a match with the winners of Sunday’s showdown between Batley Bulldogs and Sheffield Eagles.
It was Keighley who took the early lead, full-back Craig Moss scoring after a break down the left from player-coach Jason Demetriou, centre Danny Lawton converting.
Halifax levelled on 13 minutes, halfback Paul Handforth drawing the defence and giving veteran prop Jim Gannon the chance to sidestep Moss and score between the posts.
Steve Tyrer kicked the conversion and the home side went ahead just before quarter time, Handforth again the architect as another front row, Makali Aizue, touched down.
Tyrer was on target again and it was Halifax who dominated the rest of the half, scoring a third try through Tyrer, who took Handforth’s cross kick out on the left, and opening up a 16-6 advantage.
Keighley somehow got themselves back in the match just before the break, Demetriou slipping a scoring pass to next season’s boss, Paul March, Lawton closing the gap to 16-12 with the kick. Incredibly, Keighley then went ahead early in the second half when Danny Jones dummied his way over and Lawton gave them a two-point lead with the conversion.
Halifax levelled at 18-18 on 52 minutes with Tyrer’s penalty, and then went 24-18 in front through Sam Barlow’s converted try.
But visitors Keighley levelled through James Feather five minutes from time, setting the stage for Paterson’s late, dramatic winner.
Halifax: Fieldhouse; Worrincy, Paterson, Tyrer, Reittie; Handforth, Thackeray; Ambler, Ashall, Aizue, Casey, Heaton, Gannon. Substitutes: White, Penkywicz, Barlow, Tonks
Keighley Cougars: Moss; Barnett, Sagar, Lawton, Duffy; Jones, Obst; Shickell, Feather, Cherryholme, Pursglove, Rawlins, Demetriou. Substitutes: Wray, March, Sheriffe, Korkidas
Referee: J Leahy (RFL).