Rovers march on in Challenge Cup by grinding out win at Bradford

Josh Hardcastle scores Featherstone's first try in today's Challenge Cup tie at Bradford. Picture: Carol Austerberry.
Josh Hardcastle scores Featherstone's first try in today's Challenge Cup tie at Bradford. Picture: Carol Austerberry.

Three-times Challenge Cup winners Featherstone Rovers booked their place in Tuesday’s fifth round draw by beating fellow Championship club Bradford Bulls 21-13 at Odsal on Sunday.

With the sides locked at 7-7, Rovers centre Jason Walton scored a crucial 68th minute try against his former club.

Ian Hardman put the issue beyond doubt when he went over five minutes from time

The game was played in dreadful conditions which deteriorated as the first-half progressed.

Rovers had the best first-half chances and should have been further ahead than 6-0 at the break.

The only first-half points came in the fifth minute when Bradford’s Jonny Campbell dropped the ball and Josh Hardcastle pounced for a touchdown that Kyle Briggs goaled.

Featherstone went close again in the 20th minute when Frankie Mariano made a superb break but Andy Bostock lost the ball close to the line.

Rovers hooker Sam Day was held up over the line seven minutes before half-time.

Day was denied again six minutes into the second-half when the referee ruled he had dropped the ball over the line.

Bradford then levelled the scores when Evan Hodgson crossede on his debut and Joe Keyes converted.

Rovers regained the lead when Briggs kicked a 55th minute drop goal but Keyes made it 7-7 when he landed a one-pointer nine minutes later.

Walton’s try then put Featherstone back in front and Briggs defied the swliring wind and rain to add the conversion.

Briggs was on target again with a 45-yard penalty goal four minutes later to stretch the lead to 17-7.

Hardman finished a break by Mariano to put the game beyond Bradford’s reach, with Briggs adding the extras.

Campbell grabbed a late consolation try for Bradford and Keyes converted.

The fifth round draw, which will include Super League clubs Huddersfield Giants, Leeds Rhinos, Leigh Centurions and Salford Red Devils, will be made live on BBBC 5 Live’s Breakfast Show on Tuesday (from 7.45am).

Bradford Bulls: Campbell; Macani, Mendeika, Oakes, Ryan; Pryce, Keyes; Magrin, Lumb, Peltier, Wilkinson, Bentley, Halafihi. Subs: Moore, Kirk, Butterworth, Hodgson.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Turner, Walton, Ulugia, Duckworth; Briggs, Wildie; Cooper, Davies, Bostock, Mariano, Hardcastle, Lockwood. Subs: Griffin, Day, Tagg, Moore.

Referee: Callum Straw.