Featherstone Rovers came from 16-10 down at half-time to beat local rivals Castleford Tigers 32-16 in the Boxing Day challenge match at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
In front of a good-size holiday crowd of 4,184 Rovers took charge to score 22 unanswered points in the second half of a competitively played friendly.
Several players took their chance to impress coach John Duffy while his opposite number, Daryl Powell, will be disappointed by his side’s lack of discipline, which saw them concede 12 penalties.
Castleford started well as one of the new boys, Mitch Clark, came up with a big hit to dislodge the ball in a thumping first-minute tackle and the Tigers took just four minutes to open the scoring.
Jamie Ellis marked his return to the club with a try as he sold a dummy close to the line and raced through a gap to score a try he also goaled.
But Featherstone hit back well after Martyn Ridyard’s restart was allowed to bounce out over the back line, forcing a drop-out, and from the following set Luke Briscoe went over in the corner after an overlap had been created on the right-hand side.
A second try soon followed when Keal Carlile’s clever pass near the line sent Scott Wheeldon crashing over on his Rovers debut., Ridyard’s goal made it 10-6. Cas improved towards the end of the half and after forcing a couple of drop-outs they levelled the score with Tuoyo Egodo burrowing his way under two tacklers next to the line after Jy Hitchcox had been tackled just short.
Only a good tackle by Brad Knowles prevented Ellis from scoring again after the home half-back made a break, but there was no denying Ellis on 36 minutes as he backed up a fine break by Alex Foster to score his second try.
Ellis’s conversion made it 16-10 at half-time although the Tigers came close again with Egodo denied by a touch judge’s flag as he aimed to get the ball down in the corner.
Rovers began the second half well as Shaun Robinson went close to scoring then, on their next set, Gareth Gale showed tremendous pace to race clear from halfway to score a fine try to which Ridyard added a touchline goal.
Rovers scored again on 53 minutes as Connor Farrell got to Anthony Thackeray’s grubber kick to touch down and with Ridyard converting again they led 22-16.
Aided by being given several penalties they stayed on top and Matty Wildie was held up over the line.
Back came Cas off a Cory Aston 40-20 kick, but James Clare was tackled just short then the pressure ended as Oliver Holmes dropped an Aston pass.
Featherstone stretched their lead off the back of another penalty, which saw Cas put on a team warning. Carlile’s clever kick caught out the home defence and Luke Cooper just beat Wheeldon to the ball to touch down for a try goaled by Ridyard.
The visitors were not done as a good passing move on their right led to Josh Hardcastle scoring in the corner.
Jake Trueman made a threatening break for the Tigers, but again it came to nothing as, from the next play, Aston’s kick for the corner sent the ball out on the full. It was that kind of second half for Cas, who lived on scraps of possession and struggled to excite their home supporters in their first run-out since the Grand Final.
Castleford Tigers: Clare; Hitchcox, Egodo, Foster, Storey; Ellis, Trueman; Green, O’Neill, Maher, Wardle, Holmes, Clark. Subs: Aston, Sene-Lefao, Cook, Douglas, Render, Turner.
Featherstone: Thackeray; Robinson, Gale, Hardcastle, Briscoe; Ridyard, Holmes; Wheeldon, Carlile, Cooper, Farrell, Davies, Lockwood. Subs: Wildie, Mariano, Knowles, Brooks, Maskill.
Referee: Andy Sweet.