Last weekend, now a week ago, was a tale of two matches, two codes, a win and a defeat. On Saturday it was a trip to Doncaster to catch the Knights’ second home game of the season, followed by a much shorter journey to see Keighley Cougars in the final encounter of theirs.
As explained previously, professional rugby league has become a summer game in the UK, coming to an end in the Autumn or fall, while rugby union is played through the winter. I say a win and a defeat above but it was so nearly going to be two defeats with only seconds left of Keighley’s encounter with North Wales Crusaders.
As the match report says, it really was a case of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. For much of the game the visitors had been ahead and with around five minutes to go it seemed they were going to win comfortably, being two converted tries ahead. I have to admit, I thought the result was decided and had begun to move from my position beyond the try line towards the side, with the intention of getting a few post match shots, assuming the home players trudging off would be glum and not entirely pleased to have their photos taken.
However, that beautiful unpredictability of sport reared its head and the Cougars found some element within their collective character that led them forward. A try close to the posts brought them within a score. Was it just a consolation? The mood changed; crowd and players began to hope.
Cougars were camped inside their opponents 22 metre line. On reflection, I was in completely the wrong position, right next to the corner flag. As it turned out I was far too close to where the winning try was scored. It’s an important lesson: always be somewhere. Be in the right place for something to happen, even if it doesn’t.
The last tackle and the ball was kicked across field, directly towards me as it happened. Cougars’ Alfie Seeley leapt high, caught it and touched down with his back to me. You get an idea of what I mean with my picture of the post try celebration.
With the game tied at 22 each, Benn Hardcastle’s kick to win the game was not easy; a sharp angle almost on the sideline. He kicked it between the posts, setting off post match celebrations which rivalled those I’d witnessed a few weeks ago after the Friday night game against Oldham.
The sun was shining, the Cougars’ tumultuous season had ended on a positive note, there was a carnival atmosphere at Cougar Park. After a few minutes to collect themselves following defeat, even the Crusaders joined in, posing for a group photo involving both teams and staff. Not something you see very often nowadays in professional sport. You can see and download other pictures from the game over in the ickledot shop.
Unfortunately things had not gone so well for Doncaster Knights the previous day. Visitors were Ealing Trailfinders and, as the club match report admits, they were too strong for the home side and were dominant for much of the game. There was a brief period in the second half in which the Knights recovered to within a score of Ealing. However, it was the Trailfinders who rallied to score again, the final result being 22-38. A further defeat away to Nottingham must make it a worrying time for the Knights and their supporters.