FEATHERSTONE ROVERS are learning some hard lessons in the First Utility Qualifiers.
Rovers put a huge amount of effort into finishing fourth in the Kingstone Press Championship, which gave the club a much-needed financial boost.
But following wins in their final three league games – against teams above them on the table – they have proved no match for Super League opposition.
After conceding 62 points to both Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants, Rovers’ part-time side were crushed 70-16 at Salford Red Devils yesterday.
Rovers scored a superb try in the first minute, but the next time they had possession they were 20-6 behind and they immediately lost it on that occasion to concede a fifth try in the opening quarter.
Featherstone conceded 13 tries in total, after trailing 44-12 at half-time.
As the scoreline suggests, there was some exciting attacking rugby played, but defences were non-existent and both teams made a host of errors.
Featherstone are getting a lot of practice at kicking-off, but they sent the ball out on the full twice from restarts – and Salford did it once. On one of those occasions Rovers failed to find touch with the subsequent penalty.
Rovers showed attacking flair when they managed to hold on to the ball, but only looked like making a game of it for the opening 60 seconds.
In the first set Anthony Thackery split the defence; Misi Taulapapa was in support and he found Andy Ellis, who put Jordan Baldwinson over.
Kyle Briggs converted, but Taulapapa dropped the restart and that began a Salford rampage.
Rovers held out until the last tackle, but Gareth O’Brien created a try for Weller Hauraki; the re-start went out on the full and Junior Sa’u touched down from Michael Dobson’s kick in the resulting set. Josh Jones went over after a scrum and penalty in Rovers’ half, there was another penalty in the next set and Daniel Vidot crossed.
On 19 minutes Rovers finally got their hands on the ball when Briscoe collected a kick near his own line, but he lost it and Sa’u went over following the scrum.
Rovers replied on 25 minutes when Jack Ormondroyd touched down a kick by Briggs, who tagged on the extras.
But Niall Evalds, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Logan Tomkins added tries before the break. With O’Brien kicking six conversions, Salford now led 44-12.
Josh Walters scored Rovers’ third try after some strong pressure at the start of the second half, but Salford replied with back-to-back tries by Olsi Krasniqi and Hauraki.
All three Griffins brothers were involved, with Darrell representing Featherstone and Josh and George in Salford’s team.
Darrell almost got over on the hour, but was held up on the line.
Salford went the full length of the field in the next set for Dobson to score their 11th try.
O’Brien’s ninth goal equalled the number of points Leeds and Hull KR had scored against Rovers and Murdoch-Masila and Jones both went over in the final quarter to complete a tough afternoon for the visitors.
Salford Red Devils: Evalds, Vidot, Jones, Sa’u, J Griffin, O’Brien, Dobson, Burgess, Tomkins, G Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Hauraki, Flanagan. Subs Krasniqi, A Walne, Lui, Kopczak.
Featherstone Rovers: Craven, Duckworth, Hardman, Taulapapa, Briscoe, Briggs, Thackery, D Griffin, Ellis, Baldwinson, Walters, Ormondroyd, Davies. Subs Day, Cooper, Snitch, Foster.
Referee: Chris Campbell (Widnes).