Keighley Albion Ladies 44

Halifax Ladies 16

IN front of a large crowd at Cougar Park, Keighley Albion Ladies put on the performance of a lifetime to reach this Saturday's League One play-off final.

With tough opposition for the hosts, Halifax named a full 20-member squad, with Keighley fielding 17.

It began with a shaky start for Albion and followed by several mistakes in the first minutes.

But then with sheer grit and determination the Keighley ladies took the lead when Dot King dived over the whitewash to cheers from the stands.

Minutes later Halifax replied. Neck and neck, the battle commenced.

The stalemate was broken when Laura Ackroyd jinxed her way with a dummy ball from acting half which put the home side in the lead.

Top League One try scorer, Albion's Emma Templeton, was next to dive through the Halifax defensive line.

Just before half time Ackroyd managed to steel the ball on a one-on-one tackle and sprinted over for her second.

Some solid defensive efforts coming from Sarah Cartwright and Nicole Hannah and bone crunching tackles also from Jodee Loader and Templeton kept the Keighley side always in charge.

Second half saw Sarah Shillito force her way through, dodging the Halifax defence.

Halifax then were given a what appeared a dubious try decision. King was then in out wide for her second of the day.

Halifax replied again. Youngster Hollie Haigh kept the advancing Halifax forwards out with some fantastic solo tackles.

Anneka Aspland and Saima Hussain and Rachel Fort kept the Albion side going forward with some great runs.

Templeton finished with two tries that were near identical plays, coupled with the six conversions made the Keighley come out clear winners 44-16.

The large crowd, now on their feet, cheered the home side with hat-trick hero Templeton named player of the match.

Albion are now through to the finals against Cutsyke, to be played on Saturday, October 12 (11.30am kick-off) in Manchester Etihad training academy.

The Ladies and coaching staff thank Keighley Cougars for hosting the event and all supporters that came to watch and cheer the ladies on through the season.

Sarah Lancaster, Albion team manager, said: "It has been an amazing season tough and hard but we have come out on top.

"We have a Keighley grit and determination spirit running through our veins and our success comes from our heart and soul and we are really proud of the sheer effort the players have put in which has in turn has given them the rewards they deserve.

"The team have proved week in week out that they are a force to be reckoned with and have forged a new respect for Keighley and put a positive message back for the town.

"Most of all they are all friends and play for each other. I speak for myself and coaching staff Roger Fisher and Johnny Storton and Physio Deeks McDonald how proud we are of each and every player that have made this season one to remember let's hope it ends with a win at the final on Saturday."

Some of the Albion player's children escorted them out onto the Cougar Park pitch as they acted as mascots. A minutes' applause was also held before kick-off in honour of Keighley Cougars legend Phil Stephenson, who lost his battle with motor neurone

Albion are also looking to further extend a successful season so far for the club.

They reached the quarter-finals of the Coral Women's Challenge Cup quarter-final, losing to Super League side Wakefield Trinity.

But before the last-eight loss they received national exposure as Albion's name came out of the hat during the draw broadcast on the BBC's red button at Odsal following Bradford Bulls' men's side's Challenge Cup defeat to Halifax in May.

Albion Ladies were the lowest-ranked side left in the cup after they grabbed a 50-9 second round win over Halifax in May.

Albion also lifted the Women's Rugby League Association Plate after beat East Leeds Ladies 52-14 in April's final.

It marked a brilliant day for a team that had, until then, struggled for numbers all season. Albion fielded a full 13 players for the first time and came with the winning trophy. Half the game was played with 12.

Keighley Albion Ladies team is open to all females from 16 years old. For information on the team and training, which takes place every Thursday between 6pm and 7.30pm at Crossflatts Cricket Club, email Lancaster at