Featherstone Rovers suffered another heartbreaking extra time defeat against Halifax in last night’s Northern Rail Cup semi-final.
Danny Jones kicked a ‘golden point’ drop-goal two minutes into the extra period to put Halifax through to the final for the first time after the teams were locked at 30-30 at the end of normal time.
The outcome was a repeat of last season’s Co-operative Championship Grand Final that Halifax won 23-22 with a Ben Black drop-goal in extra-time.
Rovers led 16-4 in the first-half and were 30-24 up in the closing stages but they were unable to kill off Halifax who now play Leigh Centurions or Dewsbury Rams in the final at Blackpool on Sunday, July 17.
Featherstone went ahead in the 14th minute after capitalising when Halifax knocked on 10 yards from their own try line.
Liam Finn, Jon Grayshon and Andy Bostock made the opening for Tommy Saxton to cross at the corner.
Rovers quickly struck again when Sam Smeaton leaped high to catch Finn’s well-judged kick and plunged over for a try.
Halifax replied two minutes later when Finn’s attempted clearance kick on his own ‘20’ was charged down and Lee Paterson scooped up the loose ball to score.
Ian Hardman had an effort ruled out when failed to ground the ball correctly before Rovers made it 16-4 when Andy Kain scored from close-range, the try being awarded by the video referee.
Halifax hit back with two tries in five minutes from Paul White to cut the gap to two points. White bagged his first from Jones’ neat kick and Paterson added the conversion before Black cleverly put in the winger for his second touchdown.
Rovers increased their lead to 22-14 as the half-time hooter sounded when Halifax’s Paul Smith dropped a pass and Hepworth picked up the ball to grab a 50-yard try, with Finn adding his third goal.
Halifax again reduced the deficit to two points early in the second-half with a breakaway try.
Finn put in a high kick to the corner and when Andy Bostock palmed the ball back Halifax’s Jones was quickest to react and flicked a delightful pass to Rob Worrincy who raced 90 yards for a try that Paterson goaled.
Rovers looked rattled at this stage and began to lose their composure.
They were punished for losing possession when the lively Black chased his own kick to bag a 53rd minute try that put Halifax ahead for the first time.
Featherstone levelled seven minutes later when Paterson was penalised for a high tackle and Finn kicked a 30-yard angled goal.
Finn then edged Rovers back in front in the 69th minute from time when he kicked a 40-yard goal after Bob Beswick was penalised for ball stealing.
Two minutes later, Kain and Hardman sent in Bostock to give Rovers a six point lead but Halifax squared matters four minutes from time when Jones’s kick set up a try for Dylan Nash and Paterson kicked the conversion to send the game into extra time.
Jones then landed his vital one-pointer to give Halifax revenge for two league defeats against Rovers this season.
FEATHERSTONE ROVERS: Hardman; Powell, Smeaton, Bostock, Saxton; Hepworth, Finn; Haley, Kaye, Dickens, Grayshon, Spears, Divorty. Subs: Tonks, Morrison, Kain, Mvududu.
HALIFAX: Greenwood; White, Paterson, Nash, Worrincy; Jones, Black; Gannon, Beswick, Cherryholme, Clayton, Bannister, Fairbank. Subs: Aizue, Barlow, Smith, Penkywicz.
REFEREE: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven).