Battling Rovers edged out in opener at Odsal

Anthony Thackeray scored a try on his second Rovers debut.

Anthony Thackeray scored a try on his second Rovers debut.

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A hat-trick of tries by Bradford Bulls winger Omari Caro ruined Featherstone’s hopes of a winning start to their Kingstone Press Championship campaign.

Rovers more than matched their full-time opponents but were badly handicapped by an 11-4 penalty count against them.

Danny Craven and Anthony Thackeray both scored first-half tries for new-look Featherstone who were only 16-12 behind at half-time in their bid to repeat last season’s win at Odsal.

Last year’s league runners-up Bradford struck an important blow in the 54th minute when Caro bagged his third and Danny Addy added his third goal to put them 22-12 ahead.

The last 26 minutes was scoreless as Bradford held out for a hard-earned victory.

Featherstone will aim to bounce back next Sunday when they host Batley Bulldogs who pulled off a stunning opening day win against Leigh Centurions.

Rovers, whose line-up included Leeds Rhinos dual-registered players Ash Handley, Jordan Baldwinson and Mitch Achurch, gave an encouraging display at Bradford.

They competed superbly throughout after making a great start.

Full-back Craven, signed on a season-long loan from Widnes Vikings, grabbed a sixth minute try and Kyle Briggs added a touchline conversion.

The Bulls hit back when stand-off Lee Gaskell jinked his way over for a try that was goaled by Addy whose inch perfect kick then set up Caro’s first score to put the hosts 10-6 up after 19 minutes.

Captain Adrian Purtell rescued Bradford with a try-saving tackle as they survived a spell of Featherstone pressure before they increased their lead in the 31st minute when Caro went in at the corner for his second.

Rovers cut the gap to 16-12 when Thackeray darted over three minutes before half-time and Briggs added his second goal but the game began to slip away from them in the second period when Caro scored again.

Caro then intercepted a Rovers pass to prevent them scoring before he was denied a fourth try when he had an effort ruled out for a forward pass.

BRADFORD BULLS: Mathers; Clare, Purtell, Welham, Caro; Gaskell, Addy; Kavanagh, O’Brien, Sidlow, Olbison, Haggerty, Pitts., Subs: Blythe, Walker, Ferguson, Lauaki.

FEATHERSTONE ROVERS: Craven; Handley, Channing, Taulapapa, Turner; Briggs, Thackeray; Griffin, Davies, Bostock, Cording, Spears, Ormondroyd. Subs: Hardman, Achurch, Baldwinson, Tagg.

REFEREE: George Stokes (St Helens).