Summer paused this weekend as the clouds rolled in to bring welcome rain for gardening folk and thirsty reservoirs. It had poured for most of Saturday and continued to do so on Sunday morning. For the first time in months the cameras' waterproof covers came out in preparation for the short trip across Keighley to the home of the Cougars.
By the time I arrived just after 1pm the rain had mostly stopped, the puddles had begun to evaporate and the temperature started to rise. Visitors Hunslet are a few places higher up the table than the Cougars but home supporters' hopes must have still been high as previous visitors Oldham had been beaten despite their superior league position.
Expectations rose even higher as the Cougars raced into a two try lead while Hunslet went a player down, being shown the red card. Despite conceding points the hosts were still well ahead at the end of the first half.
Sadly the second half was a different story as the visitors began to show why they are higher up the league. Cougars still attacked when they could and defended fiercely, holding their lead for all but the last four minutes. The cruel blow came as Hunslet crossed the line to level the scores and then converted to go into the lead.
So close to the end of the game it was difficult for either side to change their tactics of previous minutes; Cougars couldn't get out of defence and Hunslet continued to pile forwards. Insult was added to injury as they scored again with the last play of the game, giving the final scoreline an air of respectability for them when actually it had been very close.
Photographically there was a bit of a disaster right at the beginning of the game. Fifteen minutes before kick off I'd been able task the match officials if ends had been decided. "They're playing that way," the ref replied, pointing to one end as he ran past. Before I'd had time to check if 'they' were Keighley, he'd gone. I thought it was reasonable to assume he meant the Cougars, the home side, so I walked up to the end he's indicated and settled down.
Of course, they were playing the other way. All my preparation had gone to nothing. By the time I reached the correct end the Cougars had scored their first try so I missed that one. And you know how it is, when something goes wrong right at the beginning of something, it never quite recovers. You can see other pictures from the game in the ickledot shop.
Above: Cougar Nathan Conroy is the cover star of this post