Crookes bags hat-trick as Rovers regain second spot by outplaying Halifax

Winger Jason Crookes scored three first-half tries in Featherstone's win at Halifax. Picture: Bob Nunn.

Winger Jason Crookes scored three first-half tries in Featherstone's win at Halifax. Picture: Bob Nunn.

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Winger Jason Crookes scored a first-half hat-trick of tries as Featherstone Rovers regained second place in the Kingstone Press Championship with Sunday’s 20-4 win at Halifax.

It was a vital victory for Rovers in a fixture dubbed the £250,000 match because that is the difference in prize money for finishing second or third in the table this season.

Rovers are guaranteed £450,000 for second place if they win their remaining two league matches at home to Sheffield Eagles on August 31 and away at Keighley Cougars on September 7.

They are now two points ahead of Halifax who will have to settle for £200,000 if they finish in their current position of third. Their final two fixtures are Doncaster away and Barrow Raiders at home.

Featherstone currently have a superior points difference if they finish level on points with Halifax.

Crookes grabbed his first score after five minutes and quickly completed his treble with tries after 14 and 22 minutes.

With Shaun Pick also crossing in the 18th minute and Gareth Moore kicking two conversions, Rovers were 20-0 up after 22 minutes and the score remained unchanged until half-time.

It was in complete contrast to Featherstone’s match at table-toppers Leigh the previous week which they lost 48-18 after being 20-0 down after 20 minutes.

Halifax finally opened their account in the 58th minute when substitute Ben Johnson went over but Rovers defended magnificently to deny them a bonus point.

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Potts, Cowling. Tyrer, Saxton; Murrell, Brown; Tonks, Kaye, Ambler, Adamson, Divorty, Bracek. Subs: Mennell, Johnson, Casey, Spencer.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Sharp, Worthington, Blackmore, Crookes; Kain, Moore; Crossley, Ellis, Bussey, Annakin, Pick, Lockwood. Subs: James, Hirst, Bostock, Teasdale.

Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow.