Featherstone Rovers 28 Batley Bulldogs 26: Ainscough’s bad blunder hands Fev unlikely win

Paul Sykes
Paul Sykes
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CHAMPIONSHIP Shield leaders Featherstone recovered from 26-6 down with 10 minutes left to snatch their fourth straight victory in an incredible finish.

Batley looked as though they had survived Rovers’ late fightback until two-try centre Shaun Ainscough’s amazing blunder after the final hooter.

Instead of running the ball out of play near half way, Ainscough kicked it towards the touchline and Rovers winger Will Sharp scooped it up to scramble over for a try to make it 26-26.

Paul Sykes added a touchline goal to clinch a home play-off semi-final for Rovers and plunge Batley back into relegation trouble.

Featherstone overcame the loss of centre Alex Foster with an ankle injury to take a 33rd minute lead against the run of play.

After Steve Snitch was halted just short, Andy Ellis went over from acting half and Sykes added the first of his four goals.

Four minutes later, Ainscough crossed from Elliot Cosgrove’s pass to make it 6-6 at the break.

The Bulldogs took a firm grip with two tries in three minutes early in the second-half through Anthony Nicholson and Sam Scott.

Scott Leatherbarrow kicked a 56th minute penalty to nose Batley further ahead and they looked set for a comfortable win when Leatherbarrow put in Ainscough for his second try 13 minutes from time to give them a 20-point advantage.

Young hooker Sam Day sparked Featherstone’s fightback by forcing his way over from close range.

Kyran Johnson then capitalised on Paul Cooke’s clever kick to race in for a try before the hosts cut the gap to four points when Sykes put in a kick and Ian Hardman hacked the ball on for Sykes to score, before Ainscough’s late error.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Johnson, Sykes, Foster, Sharp; Cooke, Milner; Baldwinson, Ellis, Bussey, Spears, Snitch, Ormondroyd. Subs: Day, Knowles-Tagg, Cooper, Coventry.

Batley Bulldogs: Craven; Reittie, Squires, Cosgrove, Ainscough; Southernwood, Leatherbarrow; Hirst, Blake, Hesketh, Scott, Day, J Brown. Subs: Nicholson, Rowe, Lillycrop, A Brown

Referee: Gareth Hewer (RFL).

Attendance: 1,506.