Whitehaven 28 Keighley Cougars 22: After an absorbing contest at the Recreation Ground, Whitehaven extended their winning run to 11 games with a hard-earned victory against a physical Keighley Cougars side.

Haven had trailed at the break 12-6 but another committed effort from Carl Forster and his men turned things round.

Three tries in the space of seven minutes midway through the second-half put Whitehaven back in control of a game that could easily have got away from them.

Jordan Burns continued his impressive run of form with another man of the match performance and, as usual there were stand-out contributions from Scott McAvoy, Marc Shackley and Forster, with Dion Aiye approaching his best form as well.

Whitehaven had got off to a flying start with the opening try inside three minutes.

Dion Aiye made a break 30 yards out and although he seemed to be covered by a Keighley defender, he dummied to pass to Chris Taylor in support. That got him away from the tackle and he made the line for the try which Paul Crook converted.

There should have been a second try minutes later when Steve Roper broke from midfield but with Marc Shackley coming up on his left heading for a huge gap, the half-back elected to go to the right where eventually the move broke down.

Davey Dixon got away for Keighley on seven minutes and looked to be away until he was stopped by a fine tackle from Jordan Burns.

Whitehaven had a second try disallowed on 15 minutes when Aiden Worthington touched down a grubber from Roper but he had come from an offside position.

Keighley were gradually getting a foothold in the game and after Haven were penalised for offside Keighley capped their set with a try from Adam Brook on 21 minutes. He bobbed, weaved and dodged his way over from close range and Matty Beharrall added the extras.

Keighley were almost over again when Beharrall kicked for the corner and after the ball went loose Jesse Joe Parker arrived in time to put Dixon into touch as he scooped it up.

Keighley had certainly found their rhythm and were taking the game to Whitehaven, so it was no surprise when they got in front on 32 minutes. Brad Nicholson came through on a crash ball to power over despite the attention of two home defenders. Beharrall converted.

When Beharrall put in a diagonal kick on last tackle Crag Calvert made a pig’s ear of dealing with it and the ball found touch for a 40-20.

Keighley almost got in as a result but Mike Emmett lost the ball as he dived over the line.

There was a bust up when Calvert and Dixon tangled going for a ball over the Haven line and eventually, after discussions with his touch judges, the referee awarded Haven a penalty.

Within a minute of the restart Whitehaven were level and again it was something special. On last tackle Crook put up a bomb and as the Keighley defender waited, Dave Thompson leapt spectacularly to catch the ball and charge over, making the touchdown despite a desperate late tackle. Crook converted.

But within two minutes Keighley had regained the lead. A little kick for the corner from Beharrall saw Andrew Gabriel diving in to get the touchdown. Beharrall missed a tough touchline conversion.

It was now end to end. Thompson couldn’t quite get on the end of a Crook kick for the corner and then Whitehaven had to concede a drop-out when they were slow in dealing with a kick through.

A series of penalties kept Whitehaven on top for a while and eventually it paid off. Roper tried a kick through but it hit a Keighley player, only for the Haven half-back to react quickest to pick up and dart over for the try. Crook’s conversion put Haven back in front.

More Whitehaven pressure almost paid off when Crook was unable to get the ball down after dummying his way over but on the hour the hosts did increase their lead.

Burns, who had produced another eye-catching display throughout, finished off with a great supporting run after Aiye had opened up the chance. Crook failed with the kick.

There was even better to come on 64 minutes with another outstanding Whitehaven try.

Crook’s high ball was caught by McAvoy 20 metres out and from there Calvert, Roper and Parker were involved with some neat close handling before Aidan Worthington backed up well to dive over for his first Whitehaven try. Crook converted.

But Keighley responded well and came back to make it a tough last five minutes for the Cumbrians.

They had a lot of pressure in the Whitehaven 22 and eventually James Feather got over in the 75th minute and Beharrall landed the conversion.

When Whitehaven made progress through Parker and James Tilley the ball came back to Roper but his attempted drop goal attempt was well wide.

Whitehaven: Burns, Calvert, Parker, Taylor, Thompson, Roper, Crook, Shackley, Tilley, Forster, McAvoy, Aiye, Worthington. Subs (all used): Newton, Holliday, Brown, Holland.

Tries: Aiye (3), Thomson (41), Roper (57), Burns (60), Worthington (64). Goals: Crook (4/5).

Keighley Cougars: Aaronson, Dixon Barnes, Ryder, Gabriel, Brook, Beharrall, Cherryholme, Feather, Bailey, Sagar, Tonks, Emmett. Subs (all used): Lynam, Conroy, Whittell, Nicholson.

Tries: Brook (21), Nicholson (32), Gabriel (43), Feather (75). Goals: Beharrall (3/4)

Referee: Marcus Griffiths

Crowd: 704