Super 8s Qualifiers: Fax lose out to Rovers in final game of the season

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Featherstone Rovers claimed seventh place in the Super 8s Qualifiers, and an extra £50K in prize money, with a 26-20 win over eighth-placed Halifax at the Shay.

Neither team had won a game since the end of the Championship season, but it was John Duffy’s Featherstone who rediscovered their killer instinct quickest, turning an 8-6 interval lead into a morale-boosting result.

Fax had started strongly, enjoying the Lion’s share of early possession and field position without managing to puncture the visitors’ defence, although Ben Heaton and Mitch Cahalane were both held in touching distance of the line.

But when Rovers finally got their hands on the ball, they made it count; John Davies waltzing through a gap on the inside of Ben Johnston to score by the posts.

Ian Hardman kicked the conversion for a 6-0 lead and the home side continued to frustrate in possession, lacking direction and sharpness against an energetic Featherstone side.

The visitors added to their tally with a Hardman penalty on 22 minutes and looked like they might hold their 8-0 lead until half time.

But a booming 38th-minute 40/20 from Scott Murrell got Fax on the front foot, Ed Barber being held up over the line straight from the tap restart before replacement hooker Ben Kaye scooted over on the next play.

Steve Tyrer converted for an 8-6 deficit and might have been lining up another attempt if Heaton had managed to claim the bouncing ball with the line open after Johnston’s short kick had created the chance.

But a 43rd-minute try from Luke Briscoe, from Anthony Thackeray’s kick through, was converted by Hardman as Rovers moved 14-6 up.

Fax replied immediately through Mitch Cahalane, Tyrer converting to leave the game poised at 14-12, but the home side’s decision to spurn a kickable penalty with half an hour remaining backfired spectacularly, Frankie Mariano and then Misi Taulapapa touching down as the visitors moved 26-12 clear.

Fax rallied in the last 10 minutes, scoring twice through wingers Rob Worrincy and Ben Heaton, but Rovers had the clock and the scoreboard on their side.

The final act of a scrappy afternoon was an all-in brawl after the hooter had sounded, with Heaton and Rovers’ Richard Moore both being red carded.

Halifax: Sharp; Heaton, Barber, Tyrer, Worrincy; Murrell, Johnston; Morris, Moore, Tangata, Grady, Cahalane, Grix. Subs: Kaye, Fairbank, Sio, Calcott

Featherstone: Hardman; Taulapapa, Walters, Hardcastle, Briscoe; Wildie, Thackeray; Griffin, Carlile, Moore, Davies, Mariano, Lockwood. Subs: Briggs, Cooper, Brooks, Baldwinson

Referee: Tom Grant