Seven-try win for Rovers in Boxing Day clash at Halifax

Featherstone Lions centre Josh Hardcastle scored two tries for Rovers. Picture: Matthew Merrick.
Featherstone Lions centre Josh Hardcastle scored two tries for Rovers. Picture: Matthew Merrick.

Andy Bostock and Josh Hardcastle each scored two tries as Featherstone Rovers won their opening pre-season match by beating Championship rivals Halifax 38-14 at The Shay on Boxing Day.

Featherstone’s squad included new signings Chris Ulugia, Michael Knowles, Frankie Mariano, Keal Carlile and Richard Moore, plus Featherstone Lions pair Hardcastle and James Kitchen.

Matty Wildie and Scott Turner played after lengthy injury lay-offs.

Leading 10-8 at half-time, Featherstone fell behind early in the second period but they dominated the rest of the game to run out impressive winners.

Ben Heaton’s unconverted try put Halifax ahead and Rovers replied when quick handling put in Hardcastle.

Bostock forced his way over from close range and Michael Knowles converted to give Featherstone a 10-4 lead.

The visitors missed a chance when Ian Hardman’s pass bounced off the chest of Turner after Moore’s off-load created an opening.

Fax cut the half-time gap to two points when former Lock Lane teenager Morgan Punchard, making his debut, made a superb run to pave the way for Scott Murrell to score.

The home side snatched the lead early in the second period when Connor Robinson converted his own 45-yard try after intercepting John Davies’s pass.

The game swung back Featherstone’s way when good work by Luke Cooper saw Bradley Tagg to go in for a try that Knowles goaled.

Davies then paved the way for Hardcastle to score his second that Knowles again improved.

Kitchen nearly scored on his debut but he was unable to collect Anthony Thackeray’s crossfield kick.

It hardly mattered because Sam Day then darted over before Thackeray sent in Bostock for his second, with Kyran Johnson adding both conversions.

Turner grabbed the final try as Rovers finished the game firmly on top.

Halifax: Robinson; McGrath, Tyrer, Heaton, Saltonstall; Murrell, G Moore; Boyle, Kaye, Nelmes, Grady, Bent, Fairbank. Subs: Morris, Butler, Reilly, B Moore, Punchard, Calcott, Mead, Syme, Tangata.

Featherstone Rovers squad (in alphabetical order): Bostock, Briscoe, Carlile, Cooper, Day, Duckworth, Hardcastle, Hardman, Johnson, Kitchen, Knowles, Lyons, Mariano, Moore, Tagg, Thackeray, Turner, Ulugia, Wildie.

Referee: James Child.