Featherstone leapfrogged by Halifax after defeat in crunch clash

Misi Taulapapa, who scored Featherstone Rovers' first try.
Misi Taulapapa, who scored Featherstone Rovers' first try.

Featherstone Rovers slipped down to fourth in the Betfred Championship following a disappointing 34-20 defeat in a crunch encounter at Halifax.

John Duffy’s men saw their four-match winning run ended as they lost their way after a decent start against opponents who leapfrogged them in the table and beat Featherstone at the Shay for the first time in 10 years.

Rovers looked lively early on as they forced two goal-line drop-outs, but their pressure came to nothing and it was Halifax who opened the scoring as their former winger, Will Sharp, went over in the corner after a good move involving Chester Butler, Simon Grix and James Woodburn-Hall. The conversion by Steve Tyrer made it 6-0.

Rovers looked set to hit back quickly with Luke Cooper only denied by some extraordinary goal-line defence by another former Fev player, Ben Kaye.

But with the visitors ramping up the pressure Fax eventually cracked when Misi Taulapapa skipped over on the right after good work by Matty Wildie and Ian Hardman, who levelled the scores with the conversion.

Hardman added a penalty for an 8-6 lead, but the home side produced two tries of quality either side of the half-hour to establish a 16-8 interval lead.

Sharp got the first after a brilliant cut out ball from Scott Murrell before Ben Johnston scored, kicking short for James Saltonstall and collecting the return to touch down.

The second half started with two sin-binnings, Johnston and Jack Ormondroyd being sidelined after a scuffle as the temperature on the pitch started to match the weather.

Halifax then came up with a crucial score with Adam Tangata rampaging over from Murrell’s short pass. Tyrer’s goal made it 22-8.

Rovers replied when Josh Hardcastle twisted over the line and with Hardman adding the conversion they were back within eight points.

However, Kaye twisted over from close range and Tyrer pushed the lead out to 28-14.

Fax then lost Jacob Fairbank to the sin-bin after he delayed a restart shortly after almost putting Kieren Moss over the line and the home side then went down to 11 after Sharp retaliated following an offence by Gareth Hock, who was also yellow carded.

But Halifax made sure of their win when Kieren Moss chased and touched down a clever Murrell grubber kick.

Featherstone did keep going and were rewarded with Shaun Robinson’s last minute try, but this was mere consolation and they are under pressure now to clinch a top four place with three games remaining.

Scorers - Halifax: Tries: Sharp 2, Johnston, Tangata, Kaye, Moss. Goals Tyrer 5. Featherstone: Tries Taulapapa, Hardcastle, Robinson. Goals Hardman 4.

Halifax: Moss; Saltonstall, Tyrer, Woodburn-Hall, Sharp; Murrell, Johnston; Tangata, Kaye, Maher, Butler, Grady, Grix. Subs: Fairbank, Moore, Fleming, Barber.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Briscoe, Taulapapa, Walton, Robinson; Thackeray, Wildie; Wheeldon, Carlile, Cooper, Ormondroyd, Davies, Hock. Subs: Hardcastle, Knowles, Brooks, Dwyer.

Half-time: 16-8.

Referee: Tom Grant.

Attendance: 2,356.