Rochdale Hornets 24 Featherstone Rovers 33: Fev forced to dig deep to beat off tenacious Hornets
Featherstone Rovers stayed on course for a home clash in the Championship Shield final but were made to work hard by a tenacious Rochdale Hornets outfit.
The lead changed hands on four occasions before two Harry Newman tries proved the difference at the Crown Oil Arena. It was the Hornets who scored first after withstanding early pressure. Ben Moore measured a grubber kick in behind the line and Lee Mitchell was first to it. Tyler Whittaker added the extras before he converted a penalty goal a few moments later to give the Hornets an eight-point lead.
But the away side got back into the contest with a superb try. On a free play, Newman broke down the line before offloading for Anthony Thackeray to stride clear. Moments later Rovers were in front when a short ball sent John Davies storming over the whitewash. On half-time, Rochdale went back ahead through winger Rob Massam who darted for the line and twisted out of the tackle.
Things went from bad to worse for Rovers at the start of the second half as Massam grounded following a high kick.
But Newman showed his class as he broke from deep inside his own half and raced away to slide over in the corner.
Five minutes later Newman put Rovers back in front when Featherstone outnumbered Rochdale on the left-hand side.
Hardman kicked a penalty goal with 10 minutes remaining to stretch Rovers’ lead to six points before a drop-goal from Thackeray took the advantage to seven. Rochdale responded immediately as Setareki Talatoka raced onto a kick in behind and planted the ball down but it proved to a mere consolation as Davies crashed over soon after to seal it for Rovers.
Rovers: Hardman, Whylie, Taulapapa, Newman, Robinson, Thackeray, Wildie, Cooper, Maskill, Brooks, Davies, Hardcastle, Walton. Subs: Lockwood, Knowles, Farrell, Carlile.
Hornets: Lepori, Greenwood, Talatoka, Cross, Massam, Whittaker, Yates, Taira, Moores, Moran, Adamson, Mitchell, Hatton. Subs: Brickhill, Millington, Ryan.
Referee: Nick Bennett.