Championship round-up: Rochdale’s relegation confirmed, York fight past Barrow, two drop-goal winners
There were two last-gasp winners in yet another pulsating round of Betfred Championship encounters.
Table-topping Toronto maintained their winning run after a stirring second-half comeback helped them past Bradford at Odsal.
The Canadian side managed a solitary Ricky Leutele try in the first half, while the Bulls scored through Jy Hitchcox, Jake Webster and Steve Crossley. Nevertheless, Leutele’s second of the game, further tries from Nick Rawsthorne and Liam Kay, and a drop-goal from Hakim Miloudi gave the visitors a slender three-point lead. Joe Keyes’ penalty reduced the deficit to one with five minutes to play, but Rawsthorne scored his second shortly after to seal the win.
York remain a way behind the leaders, despite picking up a hard-fought 24-16 victory away at Barrow.
Matty Marsh crossed for a hat-trick, while Jason Bass also scored his eighth try of the season. Tee Ritson, Luke Cresswell and Jono Smith responded for the Raiders, but they remain in serious danger of relegation if they can’t find their winning touch soon.
After last week’s 1895 Cup heroics away at Leigh, Widnes were given a reality check as they suffered a 30-10 defeat on Friday night away at Sheffield, their opponents at Wembley later this month.
Anthony Thackeray crossed twice for the Eagles, while there were further scores for Ben Blackmore, Brad Knowles and Menzie Yere. The Vikings, now without a league win in three, crossed through Ryan Ince and Warrington loanee Ellis Robson.
Toulouse mathematically ended Halifax’s hopes of a top five finish after edging them at the MBi Shay.
Ilias Bergal (2), Mathieu Jussuame, Anthony Marion and Paterika Vaivai all crossed for the French side, who, barring any sudden swings in points difference, need just one more win to guarantee a play-off spot.
In arguable the most dramatic Championship game of the weekend, Ryan Brierley’s late drop-goal proved to be the difference as Leigh overcame Swinton 31-30 at Leigh Sports Village.
Despite Matty Ashton crossing four times – the last of which came as the final hooter sounded – the Lions were still unable to extend their four-game winning run. The Centurions secured victory after tries from Iain Thornley, Liam Forsyth, Matty Costello, Mitch Clark, Junior Sa’u and Cory Paterson.
In similar circumstances, Featherstone needed a Dane Chisholm drop-goal two minutes from time to help them to a 25-24 victory away at Dewsbury.
Rovers outscored the Rams by five tries to four, but their poor conversion accuracy paved the way for a grandstand finish. Ryan Carr’s side occupy the final play-off spot thanks to tries from Ashton Golding, Alex Sutcliffe, Callum McLelland, Wellington Albert and Conor Carey.
In the final game of the round, Rochdale’s relegation to League 1 was confirmed after they were resoundingly beaten at home by Batley.
The Hornets have picked up just one win all season, conceding an average of 44 points per game. They conceded 50 this time around, the Bulldogs crossing through James Brown, Louis Jouffret (2), Wayne Rettie (3), Danny Yates and Jack Broadbent.
Round 23 results:
Sheffield Eagles 30-10 Widnes Vikings
Barrow Raiders 26-24 York City Knights
Dewsbury Rams 24-25 Featherstone Rovers
Halifax 22-30 Toulouse Olympique
Leigh Centurions 31-30 Swinton Lions
Rochdale Hornets 26-50 Batley Bulldogs