Whitehaven have set off their League 1 season with a hard-fought win over a battling Keighley Cougars side 28-16.

It was very close for the majority of the game with a new-look Keighley showing they will not be the whipping boys in the league, despite all their troubles.

In the end an improved second half performance from Haven ensured Gary Charlton's reign as coach began with a win.

Haven gave Keighley some early ball after they came up with a series of unforced errors in the opening minutes.

The new-look Cougars were putting on the pressure and it took some great goal line defence from Haven to keep them out.

But it was the visitors who scored first as Matt Welham finished off a good move to touch down, with Benn Hardcastle adding the extras.

Whitehaven were struggling to finish off their opportunities with a final pass from Callum Phillips to Chris Taylor pulled back as forward.

And Jamie Thackray was causing problems for the home side with a great opening quarter from the former Workington Town man.

Dion Aiye was called on to make a try saving tackle but then on the next play Keighley got over again for their second score of the afternoon.

A great kick over the top from Hardcastle went right into the hands of the chasing Jack Miller and he raced over the line, with Hardcastle converting for 12-0.

Whitehaven finally got on the scoresheet when they found numbers out wide for Chris Taylor to score, with Jake Moore converting.

But then they committed a sin on the restart as Dave Thompson knocked on and Keighley were allowed to attack again with venom, only some tough tackling forcing them into touch.

It was a great break from Aiye that brought Haven right back into the game before he slipped the pass to the supporting Moore and he got over the whitewash and then converted to level matters at 12-12.

Haven lost Jordan Thomson at the break after he was carried from the field with an injury.

Keighley started the second half well and they got the ball out wide for David Dixon to go over the try line but Hardcastle could not add the extras from the touchline but they had the upper hand.

It was a nice try from Haven that got them back into the game as Jessie Joe Parker got a quick play the ball and sucked in the defence. Aiye then got the ball out to Mossop who released winger Andrew Bulman to dive over in the corner.

Moore's conversion was just off target from wide out and the game was deadlocked once more.

A great piece of individual brilliance from Moore edged Haven ahead as he brushed off the Keighley defence to cross the whitewash and then added his own extras for Whitehaven to lead 22-16 in front of a good crowd of 897.

Keighley suffered a setback when Hardcastle had to be carried from the field with an injury.

And Haven then delivered a killer blow as Bulman went in for his second try out wide after a good move from the home side. Even though the kick was missed Whitehaven were 10 points clear.

Kris Coward and James Feather were both sent to cool their heels in the sin bin after a fracas late on but then Connor Holliday slotted over a penalty to extend the home lead.

And that was enough for Haven to see out an opening win.