Championship Round-up – Week 9

Reni Maitua made his long-awaited debut for Featherstone Rovers in a 23-16 win over Batley Bulldogs at Mount Pleasant.

However, the former Canterbury Bulldogs forward’s career in England got off to a surprise start, with the ‘Dogs holding a 14-0 advantage at the interval following tries from Matty Fozzard, Sam Scott and Shaun Ainscough, with one goal from Cain Southernwood.

However, playing down the slope at the Mount, Rovers enjoyed a stellar second period. After Southernwoood’s penalty on 52 minutes, Ben Blackmore scored a brace on the hour mark to haul the visitors back into the game, before Maitua got over for a debut try on 67 minutes.

But, with the scores locked at 16-all with minutes to go, Will Sharp proved to be the hero of the day, crashing over for a decisive four-pointer with two minutes to play. Gareth Moore‘s conversion was followed by drop goal to finally seal the points with seconds left.

Meanwhile, in South Yorkshire, Sheffield Eagles came within 12 minutes of ending Leigh Centurions‘ 100 per cent start to the season.

In a high-intensity affair, Cory Aston, a surprise selection at half-back for the Eagles, opened the scoring, reaching over to hand his side the lead on ten minutes, but Sam Barlow‘s converted score four minutes later brought the sides level. 

Quentin Laulu-Togagae and Tommy Goulden exchanged tries before the half hour mark, before Gregg McNally crossed on 31 minutes to leave his side 16-10 up at half time.

A penalty from Martyn Ridyard extended the Centurions’ lead shortly after the interval, but McNally was sin binned on 55 minutes to offer Sheffield a route back into the contest.

And they took it eight minutes later with Scott Turner going over. Two goals from Kyle Briggs and ‘QLT”s second touchdown gave them a 22-18 lead with 17 minutes to play.

But Leigh preserved their unbeaten record with three tries in the final 12 minutes, two tries from Ryan Brierley either side of Jacob Emmitt‘s effort helping the Champions finally get over the line for their ninth league win of the season.

At Odsal, Bradford Bulls made it eight wins from eight with a comfortable 28-2 win over London Broncos.

In front of a league-high 4,023 crowd, the second-placed Bulls were not at their clinical best, but still had enough to overcome the Broncos, who had started the game in fourth place.

Jay Pitts and Adam O’Brien scored first half tries to see the Bulls 10 points up before Wes Naiqama‘s penalty goal on the stroke of half time offered London some hope.

But the visitors failed to build on their only score with Lee Gaskell, Chris Ulugia and Etu Uaisele all going over for tries in the second period to round off the scoring.

Staying in West Yorkshire, Halifax produced the biggest margin of victory this weekend with a convincing 38-6 win over Workington Town.

Luke Ambler, Rikki Sheriffe, Ben Heaton, James Saltonstall and Dane Manning all crossed for first half tries to hand Fax a stunning 28-0 lead at the break.

Perry Whiteley’s converted try finally offered a response from Town on 70 minutes, but Alex Brown and Ben Kaye replied for the hosts late on to give the scoreline a more convincing look.

At the Keepmoat, Dewsbury moved up to fifth place in the Champinoship with a 24-12 win over Doncaster.

Joel Farrell opened the scoring before Dale Morton ran in the Rams’ second of the day on eight minutes.

Sam Doherty and Mike Emmett gave Doncaster hope as they led 12-10 mid-way through the first half, but Aaron Brown‘s length-of-the-field effort pulled the Rams two points ahead at the break.

A fine defensive effort from the Rams in the second half built the platform for Scott Hale and Jason Crookes to go over as the visitors secured their sixth successive win over the Dons.

Finally, in South Leeds, Hunslet Hawks battled back from 12-10 down at half-time to beat Whitehaven 26-18 for their third win of the season. 

​Richard Lepori and Simon Brown traded early tries before James Duckworth and Rhodri Lloyd each got over, John-Paul Brocklebank’s perfect record with the boot providing a two-point advantage. 

Tyla Hepi‘s converted score stretched the visitors’ advantage to eight points early in the second half, but Mufaro Mvududu, Jimmy Watson and George Flanagan went over for the hosts to earn a hard-fought victory on home soil.

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