FEATHERSTONE Lions did themselves proud despite bowing out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup with defeat to York City Knights.

Jamie Rooney
Jamie Rooney
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The National Conference League division two outfit, on the crest of a wave after division three title success last year, eyed one of those rare but magical Challenge Cup shocks after being drawn at home to a York side in the midst of a homelessness crisis.

However, the League One outfit proved too good on the day, cruising to a 58-8 victory in this fourth round tie.

The game, staged at Featherstone Rovers’ Big Fellas Stadium, was treated as an honorary derby by some in the home camp, with several members of the Knights 2015 squad being former Lions players, including head coach James Ford and Ryan Mallinder, who was made captain for the day on his seasonal bow following a hamstring strain in pre-season.

Ford, meanwhile, a former Rovers team-mate of Lions boss Jamie Rooney, took no chances with his line-up, resisting the temptation to give fringe players a run and instead naming a full-strength side – a mark of respect for his old mates, with the additional idea of building fluency ahead of the League One campaign.

That they did to some extent, bagging 10 tries in all after being sent on their way with two from dummy-half by Kriss Brining in the opening quarter. Liam Cunningham topped that with a hat-trick, completed in the last minute, while other tries came from Pete Aspinall, Harry Carter, Ed Smith, James Haynes, who also added nine conversions, and Colton Roche.

Having trailed 30-0 at half-time, the Lions – who had also lost centre Josh Hardcastle, a try-scorer in the third-round win over Elland, to injury in the warm-up –battled on in the second half and played some good stuff too, deservedly getting on the scoreboard through tries by Kieran Redfearn, finishing a fine move, and Sam Candlin, from dummy-half.

Featherstone Lions: Jackson, Redburn, Williams, Hardcastle, Perkins, Candin, Young, Wilson, Gamble, Curtis, Glassell, Johnson, Gibbons. Subs (all used): Frankland, Hepworth, Barker, Millard.

York City Knights: Haynes, Chisholm, Cunningham, Minikin, Morrison, Presley,

P. Smith, Applegarth, Brining, Aldous, Aspinall, E. Smith, Mallinder. Subs: Carter, Roche, Tonks, Pickles.

Referee: Scott Mikalauskas (RFL)

Knights too strong for brave amateurs Lions as they cruise into fifth round