SCRUM-half Liam Finn piled up 20 points as Featherstone Rovers erased the memory of last year’s extra-time defeat by Halifax by trouncing Sheffield Eagles 40-4 in Sunday’s Co-operative Championship Grand Final at Warrington.
Finn (pictured), who scored two tries and converted six of Featherstone’s seven tries, won the Tom Bergin Trophy as man of the match.
Rovers finished the regular season 17 points ahead of Sheffield, who became the first team to reach the final from outside the top two, and the gulf in class was evident from the start.
Appearing in their biggest match since 1998, when they famously beat Wigan at Wembley to lift the Challenge Cup, the Eagles appeared to be struck by stage fright in the early stages and Rovers punished them ruthlessly.
Stand-off Andy Kain twice split the Eagles defence wide open in the first six minutes to create tries for second rower Tim Spears and Finn, who converted both to give his side a 12-0 lead.
Sheffield hit back through stand-off Dane McDonald, who forced his way over from dummy half on 12 minutes, and their tigerish defence kept their opponents at bay for the next half-hour before cracking in a crucial three-minute spell either side of the interval.
Former Hull KR winger Ben Cockayne was released by Sam Smeaton and Finn was up in support to grab his second try and his third conversion made it 18-4 at the break.
Featherstone’s lead was quickly out to 20 points when loose forward Jon Hepworth broke clear to get full-back Ian Hardman over within 90 seconds of the re-start.
Rovers let slip a 22-4 lead against Halifax a year ago to go down 23-22 but they never looked likely to capitulate a second time.
Even a brawl involving virtually every player on the pitch, which resulted in yellow cards for the initiators, Kirk Netherton (Featherstone) and Joe Hirst (Sheffield), and torrential rain could not derail the League leaders from their mission.
Cockayne gathered Finn’s kick to touch down for the eighth successive match while Tom Saxton created a try for Hepworth before sprinting 90 metres to touch down himself and wrap up the scoring just before the end.