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Lions lose out in semis after poor first half show

Ian Jackson about to go over for a try for Featherstone Lions against Leigh Miners Rangers. Picture: Jonathan Buck
Ian Jackson about to go over for a try for Featherstone Lions against Leigh Miners Rangers. Picture: Jonathan Buck

Featherstone Lions’ season ended in disappointment as their promotion bid from the National Conference Division One fell at the play-offs stage.

The semi-final summed up the season for Paul Dooley’s men as it featured the kind of highs and lows they have seen.

Ben Francis takes on Leigh Miners defenders during Featherstone Lions' play-off. Picture: Jonathan Buck

Ben Francis takes on Leigh Miners defenders during Featherstone Lions' play-off. Picture: Jonathan Buck

First it was the low as they gave a shocking first half display that saw the game effectively all over by the interval with hosts Leigh Miners Rangers 32-4 ahead. But the second half saw a spirited revival from the Featherstone side who got to within two scores at one point before eventually losing 39-20.

Danny Gilbert set a good lead after the break along with Scott Glassell and Jake Wood until the latter came off with a nasty head wound. Ian Jackson gave a captain’s knock at full-back and Gaz Gale tried hard, but with the referee on their back from the off they were constantly penalised. In the first half Lions were dropping off tackles with ease and what possession they had they struggled to hold onto.

Davi Garahan pulled off a try saving tackle in Miners’ first attack then Jack Ellam made a fine cover tackle.

Lions opened the scoring as Garahan made a fine break then Jackson put up a bomb which saw teenager Ellam pick up and go on the outside of the Miners defence for a try.

Sam Millard on the attack for Featherstone Lions. Picture: Jonathan Buck

Sam Millard on the attack for Featherstone Lions. Picture: Jonathan Buck

Soon after Danny Glassell was held short of the line, but this was the signal for Leigh to take control of the game. They put their first points on the board when fast hands saw them score wide out. The conversion made it 6-4.

More crisp handling saw the hosts go over wide out and after a fine cover tackle by Scott Glassell held up Miners they again moved the ball wide for a try that was converted.

Lions lost Harry McAllister through injury, but Ben Mawson and Gale had strong tilts and a Jackson chip over the defence saw Scott Glassell pick up only to be held close to the line.

But weak defending allowed Leigh to go over again and two more tries before half-time stretched their lead to 32-4.

Mawson, Scott Glassell and Wood did well for Lions in the opening minutes of the second half and after a good Jackson run Tom Wandless and Gale combined to send Ellam in.

More good pressure led to Wandless chipping over before Jackson went in for a solo effort and added the conversion.

Gilbert then raced 45 metres before parting to Jackson who went over for his second try. When he added the extras it was suddenly 32-20. But Miners settled their nerves with a drop-goal and sealed victory with a converted try.

Lions played better for the last 25 minutes and if they had played like that the full 80 the score could been a lot different, but credit to Leigh who go into the play-offs final.

Lions players and coaching staff would like to thank team manager Keith Bell, physio Paul Crane and Jack Brown for all their hard work behind the scenes through the season.