Depleted Featherstone Rovers went close to pulling off a huge upset against Catalans Dragon in Sunday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth round tie in Perpignan.
The Championship side were pipped 37-34 in a nail-biting finish as the Dragons scrape a win that earned them a quarterfinal trip to Hull Kingston Rovers.
Featherstone, who were without many of their top players ahead of next Sunday’s Suumer Bash clash against Leigh Centurions in Blackpool, gave a magnificent account of themselves in a game that could have gone either way when the teams were locked at 30-30 in the closing stages.
Trailing 18-12 at half-time, they rocked the French Super League outfit by snatching a 24-18 lead early in the second period.
Two tries and a drop goal in the last eight minutes eventually gave the Dragons the edge but Featherstone still had the last word when Aussie prop Ryan Verlinden scored on his debut in the final minute.
Featherstone’s other try scorers were Alex Foster, Jack Ormondroyd, Remy Marginet, Luke Teasdale and Nathan Chappell as they went desperately close to maintaining their perfect away record this season after losing 70-12 on their only previous trip to Perpignan for a fourth round tie in 2007.
Former Dragon Remy Marginet almost came back to haunt his old side as Featherstone pushed the Dragons all the way, kicking five goals from five attempts.
Luke Teasdale also played a key role while Featherstone’s back three of Will Sharp, Kyran Johnson and the outstanding Ben Blackmore also impressed in an often scrappy game in which Catalans were reduced to 12 men with the dismissal of former Wigan prop Jeff Lima.
Catalans Dragons: Escare; Oldfield, Gigot, Tonga, Yaha; Bosc, Robin; Lima, Pelissier, Casty, Whitehead, Anderson, Mounis. Subs: Cardace, Bousquet, Springer, Maria.
Featherstone Rovers: Johnson; Blackmore, Minns, Chappell, Sharp; Milner, Marginet; Verlinden, Teasdale, James, Foster, Tonks, Bussey. Subs: Baldwinson, Ormondroyd, Day, Cooper.