Rovers triumph as Fax suffer pre-season loss

Dane Manning
Dane Manning
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Halifax’s unbeaten pre-season ended at Featherstone as Rovers ran out 30-12 winners in a contest that was expected to provide some kind of form guide for the Championship top four battle.

Karl Harrison’s side trailed 18-6 after half an hour and 18-12 at half time and although they piled on the pressure at times in the second half, Rovers’ extra sharpness with the ball in the final third meant they just about merited their winning margin.

The visitors took a second-minute lead through Scott Murrell, the loose forward cutting back against the play to score by the posts, Simon Brown kicking the conversion for a 6-0 scoreline.

They went on to dominate the opening exchanges, pinning Rovers inside their own quarter and almost scoring again when Danny Cowling broke down the right flank.

When the home side did score, it came against the run of play, Jamal Chisholm, the former Leeds winger, touching down after Greg Worthington had done the initial damage.

Gareth Moore converted for 6-6 and was successful again almost immediately after a dropped ball from Ryan Fieldhouse put a try on a plate for the impressive Worthington.

At 12-6, the momentum swung Rovers’ way, Fax spending a long spell without the ball and conceding a further try to back rower Tim Spears, Moore making it 18-6.

Eventually, Brown’s towering kick forced a drop out and Ross Divorty and Luke Adamson worked the opening for the fit-again Adam Robinson to open his account for the year with a try under the posts, Brown cutting the deficit to 18-12 at the break.

The second half started promisingly for the visitors as they ramped up the pressure playing down the hill.

But with the pitch deteriorating rapidly after the recent heavy rain, and both coaches making plenty of changes, the game became the classic winter armwrestle, with neither side carving out clear cut chances.

In the end, it took until 15 minutes from time for the deadlock to be broken, Rovers’ Andy Ellis diving in and Moore kicking his side 24-12 up.

Fax piled on the pressure after that, Ben Kaye being held up, Fieldhouse falling just short, but were unable to crack their hosts.

The closing 10 minutes were illuminated by a brief but furious scrap, for which Dane Manning and Josh Sunley both got yellow cards, before Chisholm grabbed a second to seal Rovers’ success.

Featherstone: Hardman; Sharp, Worthington, Mendeika, Chisholm; Cording, Moore; Nicholson, Flanagan, Dale, Roche, Walmsley, Bennion. Subs: Hellewell, Ellis, Spears, Crossley, Hirst, Lockwood, James, Sunley, Ormondroyd, Teasdale

Halifax: Fieldhouse; Reittie, Heaton, Cowling, Potts; Brown, Johnston; Tonks, Kaye, Ambler, Manning, Adamson, Murrell. Subs: Mennell, Robinson, Divorty, J. Casey, C. Casey, Brooks, Holmes.

Referee: Joe Cobb (Leigh)