Halifax RLFC 28-24 Keighley Cougars
Halifax edge past Keighley tanks to late try
Halifax needed a last-minute try from Lee Paterson to beat Keighley 28-24 in the first Co-operative Championship elimination play-off at The Shay.
Defeat marked the end of the road for Cougars player-coach Jason Demetriou, who will now retire and return to Australia after a decade in the British game but he had the consolation of bowing out with a man-of-the-match performance.
Demetriou created tries for Craig Moss and Paul March, his successor as coach, as Keighley threatened to produce a shock by twice taking the lead.
Quickfire tries from prop forwards Jim Gannon and Makali Aizue and another from centre Steve Tyrer had edged Halifax into a 16-6 lead but former Halifax stand-off Danny Jones added a third try for the visitors three minutes into the second half.
Danny Lawton's third goal edged the Cougars back in front at 18-16 and, after Tyrer levelled the scores with a 50th-minute penalty, substitute prop Sam Barlow thought he had won it for Halifax when he charged over on 65 minutes.
However, it was all square again six minutes from the end when Keighley hooker James Feather forced his way over and, after Jones had failed with an ambitious drop-goal attempt from halfway, Anthony Thackeray broke away in the last minute to send Paterson over for the winning score.
Halifax will now meet the winners of Sunday's second eliminator between Sheffield Eagles and Batley.