HISTORY repeated itself for Featherstone Rovers as they slipped to a 31-30 defeat in extra time against Halifax in Thursday’s Northern Rail Cup semi-final at Bigfellas Stadium.
The outcome was the same as last season’s Co-operative Championship Grand Final which Rovers lost 23-22 to Halifax in extra time.
In both cases, Halifax got the edge with a drop goal after clawing their way back into the game in normal time.
Rovers were 30-24 ahead with four minutes left on Thursday but Halifax levelled with Dylan Nash’s late try that Lee Paterson converted before Danny Jones kicked a winning drop goal two minutes into extra time.
Featherstone led 16-4 in the first-half thanks to tries from Tom Saxton, Sam Smeaton and Andy Kain but Halifax winger Paul White scored two tries in eight minutes to close the gap to just two points.
A breakaway try from Jon Hepworth on the stroke of half-time put Rovers back in control at 22-14 up but early in the second-half Halifax winger Rob Worrincy scored his 19th try of the season and Ben Black then followed up his own grubber kick to put Halifax in front for the first time on 53 minutes.
Featherstone scrum-half Liam Finn levelled the scores on the hour with a penalty and added a second eight minutes later to edge his side back in front but the excitement continued right to the end.
Featherstone added a fifth try through centre Andy Bostock 10 minutes from the end but Halifax centre Nash touched down Jones’ kick to keep the tie alive.
Patterson’s third goal tied the scores for a second time and Halifax once more showed the greater composure in extra time to take the spoils.
Halifax’s final opponents at Blackpool on July 17 will be Leigh or Dewsbury who meet in the second semi-final at Leigh Sports Village on Sunday.
To compound Featherstone’s misery, forward Iain Morrison sustained a broken jaw.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Powell, Smeaton, Bostock, Saxton; Hepworth, Finn; Haley, Kaye, Dickens, Grayshon, Spears, Divorty. Subs: Tonks, Morrison, Kain, Mvududu.
Halifax: Greenwood; White, Paterson, Nash, Worrincy; Jones, Black; Gannon, Beswick, Cherryholme, Clayton, Bannister, Fairbank. Subs: Aizue, Barlow, Smith, Penkywicz.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven).