Halifax go out of Challenge Cup at Featherstone

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Halifax exited the Challenge Cup at the sixth round stage after a 24-12 defeat by Featherstone at Post Office Road.

Richard Marshall’s side looked second best to an inspired Rovers for most of a contest played at breakneck speed, but some supremely committed defence meant the home side could only finally breath easily when Josh Hardcastle scored seven minutes from time.

Playing down the ground’s famous slope, Rovers had been physically dominant from the first minute, piling bodies into tackles in the opening set and turning the screw as the half went on.

Ironically, while Fax struggled to find any consistent momentum, they still managed to take the lead when Ben Heaton, playing in the back row, stormed on to Scott Murrell’s pass to open the scoring.

Steve Tyrer converted for a 6-0 lead, but Rovers responded almost immediately, a questionable penalty against Adam Tangata laying the platform for John Davies to rumble over, Cory Aston levelling the scores with the conversion.

Rovers looked more and more in charge as the half wore on, scoring a second try through Scott Turner and Aston doubling their lead to 12-6.

But Fax defended stubbornly, Will Sharp producing a miracle tackle from stop Ian Hardman scoring, and frustrating their hosts to the extent that Anthony Thackeray was reduced to firing off drop goal attempts.

His second, right on the half time hooter, gave Rovers a 13-6 interval lead and left Marshall with plenty of work to do during the break.

Fax began the second half as they had ended the first, with a dubious penalty against them putting Rovers on the front foot and Scott Turner’s 47th-minute score putting the home side 17-6 up.

The visitors continued to battle against what looked like a relentless tide, with the loss of Shane Grady to the sin bin after a trip doing nothing for their hopes of a comeback.

But when a Ben Johnston try, the half back darting through to score under the posts and Tyrer converting, closed the gap to 17-12 with 19 minutes to go, raising hopes of a miracle revival.

WIth Featherstone pounding forward down the middle though, there was no denying them; Thackeray adding a second drop goal before Hardcastle beat Johnston on the outside and Aston’s conversion put the result beyond doubt.

Featherstone: Hardman, Turner, Ulugia, Taulapapa, Briscoe, Thackeray, Aston, R Moore, Carlile, Cooper, Knowles, Davies, Lockwood. Subs: Griffin, Tagg, Wildie, Hardcastle

Halifax: Sharp, Saltonstall, Woodburn-Hall, Tyrer, Worrincy, Murrell, Robinson, Tangata, B Moore, Cahalane. Subs: Boyle, Johnston, Barber, Morris

Referee: Chris Campbell