FEATHERSTONE ROVERS stayed level on points with second-placed Toulouse in the Kingstone Press Championship with a magnificent first-half display in Monday’s 44-18 victory over Bradford Bulls at LD Nutrition Stadium.
On-loan half-back Cory Aston, who scored two tries and kicked six goals, won the Rovers man of the match award but he was pushed close by impressive young prop Luke Cooper who was unlucky not to score with a barnstorming run.
Winger Scott Turner grabbed two first-half tries as Featherstone repeated last month’s Challenge Cup win at Bradford by building a match-winning 38-0 interval lead after being 14 points ahead in as many minutes.
“I was delighted,” said Rovers coach Jon Sharp.
“I was really pleased with the win - that was the priority. It was always going to be a challenge in the second-half with the energy.”
Rovers never looked back after John Davies, Ian Hardman and Josh Hardcastle put in Misi Taulapapa at the corner in the second minute.
They shot further ahead with two more quick tries.
Crisp handling by Chris Ulugia, Luke Cooper, Turner, James Lockwood and Davies sent in Hardcastle before Turner finished a slick move by darting over from Ulugia’s pass.
Bradford’s Joe Keyes had an effort ruled out for obstruction and Rovers had another let-off when Oscar Thomas was unable to take Keyes’ pass with the try line wide open.
The Bulls then fell further behind when Anthony Thackeray sent Andy Bostock plunging over from close range.
Featherstone added three tries in seven minutes before half-time.
Aston scored twice – the first from his own grubber kick - and Turner bagged his second from a move involving Matty Wildie, Thackeray and Hardman.
The Bulls came more into the game in an untidy second-half, outscoring the home side 18-6.
Ryan Oakes opened Bradford’s account inn the 44th minute with a 55-yard interception try but Rovers quickly replied when Darrell Griffin forced his way over.
Bostock was sin-binned in the 53rd minute and although the Bulls failed to take advantage of the extra man they later scored when Oakes grabbed his second touchdown from a crossfield kick by Thomas.
Taulapapa became the second Rovers player to be sin-binned eight minutes from time for a challenge on Johnny Campbell and this time Bradford capitalised by completing the scoring when Omari Caro went over and Thomas kicked his third goal.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Taulapapa, Ulugia, Hardcastle, Turner; Thackeray, Aston; Cooper, Carlile, Moore, Knowles, Davies, Lockwood. Subs: Griffin, Wildie, Ormondroyd, Bostock.
Bradford Bulls: Campbell; Macani, Oakes, Ryan, Caro; Thomas, Keyes; Magrin, Moore, Kirk, Bentley, Larroyer, Wilkinson. Subs: Halafihi, Davies, Hodgson, Tomlinson.
Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).