Red-hot Rovers turn up heat in top-four battle by thrashing Bulls

Rovers winger Jy Hitchcox scored a first-half hat-trick of tries at Bradford on Wednesday night. Ppicture: Bob Nunn.
Rovers winger Jy Hitchcox scored a first-half hat-trick of tries at Bradford on Wednesday night. Ppicture: Bob Nunn.

Featherstone Rovers climbed to fourth in the Kingstone Press Championship with Wednesday night’s stunning 37-18 win at Bradford Bulls in front of a crowd of 5,044.

Aussie winger Jy Hitchcox bagged a first-half hat-trick of tries as Rovers maintained an excellent away record this season and avenged a 40-4 home defeat against Bradford earlier this year.

The Bulls went top of the table with a 34-16 home win over Batley Bulldogs at the weekend and were on a 17-game winning streak but they were totally outplayed by Featherstone who defied the searing heat to give arguably their best performances of the season.

After an unimpressive display in Sunday’s 42-34 win at Hunslet Hawks, Featherstone’s goalline defence was much improved and they rocked Bradford by storming into a 22-6 interval lead.

Hitchcox scored three tries in the first 30 minutes and Reni Maitua also crossed.

Bradford’s only first-half reply was an 18th minute try by former Rovers player James Mendeika.

Five minutes into the second-half, Ben Blackmore grabbed a 55-yard try and Paul Sykes added his fourth goal to put Featherstone 22 points ahead but Bradford briefly flickered when Chev Walker went over and Ryan Shaw kicked his second goal.

Sykes then landed a 63rd minute penalty before French international Remy Marginet kicked a drop goal to make it 31-12.

Hooker Andy Ellis put the icing on the cake for Rovers by grabbing his 100th career try which Sykes converted.

Mendeika’s second try and Shaw’s third goal came far too late to rescue Bradford.

Bradford Bulls: Mendeika; Williams, Purtell, Henry, Shaw; Seijka, Addy; Clough, O’Brien, Sidlow, Olbison , Ferguson, Pitts. Subs: Blythe, Fleming, Walker, Crossley.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Blackmore, Sykes, Minnns, Hitchcox; Milner, Marginet; Baldwinson, Ellis, Verlinden, Cording, Maitua, Spears. Subs: England, Cooper, Ormondroyd, Foster.