FEATHERSTONE reached the Championship Grand Final for the fourth time in five seasons by ending defending champions Sheffield’s eight-match winning run.
Rovers face table-toppers Leigh in next Sunday’s final at Headingley after avenging last month’s 40-28 home defeat against the Eagles and ruining their hopes of a fourth consecutive Grand Final. Scrum-half Gareth Moore was Featherstone’s match-winner, scoring a try and kicking five goals including a drop goal.
Trailing 21-0 at half-time, Sheffield cut the gap to nine points with two converted tries early in the second-half but Rovers defended magnificently to prevent them scoring again.
Featherstone took an eighth minute lead when Moore’s long pass put in Ben Blackmore and Moore added a touchline goal.
Eagles fell further behind in the 14th minute when Moore kicked a 40-yard penalty.
After Sheffield’s Matt Garside was held up over the line, Rovers quickly swept upfield to score again when James Lockwood went in at the corner from Moore’s pass and Moore converted. From the kick-off, Blackmore’s superb break and well-timed pass saw Moore go over for Featherstone’s third try.
Rovers finished the half well on top and Moore edged them further ahead with a penalty goal and a drop goal.
Sheffield made a storming start to the second-half, scoring two tries in the opening six minutes. Briggs’s clever grubber close to the line created the first for Peter Green. Rovers were rocked again two minutes later when Briggs put in another kick and although Scott Turner’s pass went to ground Quentin Laula-Togagae snapped up the ball to score. Dominic Brambani’s second conversion reduced the deficit to 21-12.
Eagles continued their onslaught in the closing stages, but Featherstone’s scrambling defence did a great job to hold onto their lead.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Sharp, Pick, Blackmore, Crookes; Kain, Moore; Crossley, Ellis, James, Cording, Spears, Lockwood. Subs: Teasdale, Bussey, Annakin, Hirst
Sheffield Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Garside, Taulapapa; Briggs, Brambani; Battye, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, Straughier Green, Walker. Subs: Aston, Green, Blagbrough, Lillycrop.
Referee: Joe Cobb (Leigh).