Halifax 20 – 32 Featherstone

Featherstone Rovers gained revenge for their heartbreaking Grand Final defeat with a superb second half at the Shay that helped them to victory in the Championship.

Trailing 20-12 at half-time, Rovers came out and played a perfect game to not only score four tries, but keep the hosts scoreless.

Another entertaining Championship game saw both sides forge early chances through Andy Kain and Paul White and the hosts grabbed the lead after eight minutes when a grubber kick was dabbed behind the line by Ben Black and the awkward bounce got away from Ian Hardman into the grateful arms of Sean Penkywicz. Former Keighley halfback Danny Jones kicked the first of two goals but Rovers were soon back on level terms.

So often Liam Finn is the go-to man for Rovers and he provided their inspiration after eleven minutes for Tony Tonks to scatter the defence and make the line. Finn converted but just as Andy Bostock was forced to turnover possession twenty metres from the Halifax goal line, the hosts moved through the gears and quickly broke downfield when Bob Beswick spotted a hole left by injury to Dave Williams. Rob Worrincy blistered up in support to score for the eleventh successive game and it was soon 12-6.

Once again Featherstone battled back and when a wide attack was turned back inside by Bryn Powell the ball went to ground with Jonny Hepworth diving on loose possession. From dummy half, Kain and Finn worked the position and Stuart Dickens muscled through a melee of players on the line. Finn levelled the game with the conversion before two tries in three minutes seemed to tip the game in Halifax favour.

Both tries went the way of Jamaican captain Paul White as he first ran onto an angled kick that caught Powell slightly out of position and then he added a great finish in the corner after Black, Jones and Miles Greenwood did all the running. Sadly for Jones, his kicking boots deserted him and although Rovers ended the half well on top in terms of possession, they could not get through a strong tackling Fax rearguard.

The second half started well for the hosts and they thought they had scored a fifth try when Lee Paterson got to Jones kick but video replays showed that he had grounded on the deadball line and Rovers went on the counter.

The video referee was called on again a couple of minutes later at the other end of the field but the smart try from Bryn Powell stood after former Rotherham and Leeds rugby union player Hepworth fizzed the ball out to him.

Halifax tried hard to get through the line again but when Jones grubber was ruled not to have been played at by the Rovers defence, a handover ensued.

Rovers stuck to their task and came up with a 52nd minute try to tie the game when Finn kicked wide, Tom Saxton leapt higher than his opposite number and Bostock followed up.

Halifax have some experienced campaigners in their pack this season but even seasoned professionals sometimes lose their cool and that’s what happened with Jim Gannon when he spoke out of turn whilst in possession. Rovers drove within metres of the line thanks for Jon Grayshon and a clever dummy from Kain saw him blast over from close range to put Featherstone in front. Finn’s conversion made it 26-20 and there was more to come on the hour for Rovers.

A sprightly attack down the left brought Saxton in to the centres and he shipped play on quickly to big Bostock who had too much strength and momentum for Worrincy to force the ball down in the corner. Finn split the posts again and the halfback came up with a superb tackle to deny Jones at the other end. He also missed with a drop-goal attempt but he need not have worried as Rovers expertly guided play to the final hooter and a second successive win.

HALIFAX: Fieldhouse, White, Goddard, Paterson, Worrincy; Jones, Black; Aizue, Penkywicz, Gannon, Bannister, Chandler, Barlow. Subs: Greenwood, Fairbank, Beswick, Watene

Tries: Penkywicz (8), Worrincy (17), White (29, 32).
Goals: Jones 2/4.

FEATHERSTONE: Hardman, Powell, Smeaton, Bostock, Saxton; Kain, Finn; Dickens, Kaye, Tonks, Grayshon, Spears, Worthington. Subs: Dee, Hepworth, Morrison, Williams.

Tries: Tonks (11), Dickens (25), Powell (45), Bostock (52, 60), Kain (56).
Goals: Finn 4/6.

Referee: Ronnie Laughton.
Halftime: 20-12 to Halifax.

Attendance: 2,638

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