Lions roar in Challenge Cup

Featherstone Lions' Sam Candlin.
Featherstone Lions' Sam Candlin.

NATIONAL Conference League Division Two side Featherstone Lions fought back from behind to record a 28-14 Challenge Cup preliminary round win over Division One rivals Rangers.

A trip to Pilkington Recs in the second qualifying round on Saturday is Lions’ reward for a battling display in which Adam Hepworth, Sam Candlin, John Fowler and Davi Garahan were outstanding.

Despite Candlin twice going close to scoring, it was Rangers who scored first through Scott Childs’ try and Danny Grice’s conversion.

It got worse for the hosts when they lost Craig Barker and Charlie Daley to injuries but they dug in and were soon on level terms.

Candlin showed his strength to resist four tacklers and bag a fine try, goaled by Rich Frankland to make it 6-6.

Stanley launched waves of attacks in a bid to restore their lead but the superb Lions defence held firm and it was Candlin who put the hosts ahead with another excellent individual effort, again improved by Frankland.

The score sparked more desperate attacks from the visitors but they were thwarted by brilliant try-saving tackles from Hepworth, Jack Nicholson and James Dunn.

Stanley bossed proceedings for a 10-minute spell but were unable to find a breakthrough as Featherstone took their 12-6 advantage into the break.

Sam Wilson was inches away from grounding a kick forward early in the second half but the hosts didn’t have to wait long for their next score and 12 minutes after the resumption Nicholson weaved his way through the Stanley defence to touch-down and Frankland added the extras.

The Rangers’ response was immediate, Jamie Gollings going over to make it 18-10 going into the final quarter, but more resolute home defence prevented the visitors from eroding the deficit any further.

Stanley began to run out of ideas but the Lions continued to roar, a superb ball from Frankland putting Wilson over the whitewash before Hepworth clinched the win with a 35-metre try, goaled by Frankland.

Grice finally found a way through the Featherstone ranks to score a try two minutes from time but it was no more than a consolation.

There was another cup upset at North West Counties League outfit Blackbrook who eased past National Conference Division One high fliers Castleford Lock Lane 22-6.

The St Helens based hosts went ahead with only 30 seconds gone, establishing a lead they would never relinquish.

Jon Glover was the early try-scorer and he went over again on six minutes, Lee Marsh adding the extras.

Lane’s first-half misery was completed by a try eight minutes before the break from Stephen Parkinson, who kicked a penalty four minutes later to make it 16-0 at half-time.

Castleford finally got going through Scott Horner’s try and Danny Rowse’s goal four minutes into the second half but that turned out to be the only highlight for the visitors.

Parkinson landed another penalty to keep Blackbrook in the ascendancy and the win was rounded-off by Glover’s hat-trick score in the dying seconds.

Lock Lane’s plight was replicated by their NCL Division One rivals Castleford Panthers who were also knocked-out of the cup by North West Counties opposition.

Premier Division leaders Bank Quay Bulls swept past Panthers 52-12 to book a trip to Rochdale Mayfield in the second qualifying round on Saturday.