Impressive Featherstone fired out a statement of intent with a comprehensive 24-8 pre-season drubbing of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
The Kingstone Press Championship side totally out-played their Super League visitors, after scoring one of the quickest opening tries in the sport’s history.
Rovers defended excellently – keeping a clean sheet in the second half – and their execution was first class with winger Jamel Chisholm scoring a very well-taken hat-trick.
Wildcats looked a long way short of being ready for competitive action, but still have some key players to add and four weeks to put problems right.
Their defence crumbled alarmingly at times and key combinations didn’t gel, but the biggest issue was the way they started the game.
Wildcats boss Richard Agar praised Rovers’ performance, but questioned his own players’ attitude.
He said: “Their first try was a total embarrassment, over the course of the game our skill level wasn’t good enough and our defence was way too passive.”
Rovers went ahead after six seconds when Richard Moore dropped the first pass from the kick-off and Matt James touched down.
Gareth Moore converted and then handled in the move which led to Chisholm crossing sharply from Ian Hardman’s pass on five minutes. There was no goal, but Rovers led 16-0 after nine when Chisholm took another pass from the excellent Hardman and dashed over for his second, improved by Moore.
Wakefield were being embarrassed at that stage, but they showed some resolve to halve the deficit by half-time.
The visitors got on the board after 14 through Dean Collis, who touched down after Matty Wildie’s kick had been spilled by Will Sharp under pressure from Peter Fox.
And then on 38 Paul McShane, Paul Sykes and Collis worked the ball to Fox and he was too quick for the cover, making it 16-8 at the break.
Going downhill in the second half Wakefield had the momentum, but after surviving some early pressure Rovers extended their lead when Sharp finished superbly from a pass by Greg Worthington – who had a strong game– on 49.
The hosts looked comfortable after that and deservedly added a fifth try 16 minutes from time, Chisholm completing is hat-trick.
Wildcats’ starting line-up included Luke Briscoe, who was signed during the week on a season-long loan from Leeds Rhinos. He was one of 12 past or present Leeds players involved yesterday, six in each team.
Featherstone coach John Bastian said: “We defended particularly well. We put some real commitment, effort and desire into our performance and we stuck to our systems in offence and defence.”
Featherstone: Hardman, Sharp, Worthington, Cording, Chisholm, Bussey, Moore, Crossley, Ellis, Hirst, Lockwood, Spears, James. Subs (all used) Flanagan, Nicholson, Walmsley, Roche, Teasdale, Mendeika, Sunley, Ormondroyd.
Wakefield: Mathers, Fox, Collis,m Briscoe, Lyne, Sykes, Wildies, R Moore, McShane, Tautai, Kirmond, Walshaw, Washbrook. Subs (all used) D Smith, Shulver, Annakin, Goulding, Crowther, Jowitt, Raleigh.
Referee: Dave Merrick (Pontefract).