Two tries by impressive Gaz Gale helped Featherstone Lions to an 18-16 victory over previously unbeaten table toppers Pilkington Recs in Division One of the National Conference.
The Lions pack set the foundations for the win over opponents who had won all eight of their previous league games in 2019 with some big hits and strong running.
They were well in control at the break as they held a 14-0 lead, but had to withstand a good Pilks comeback as the visitors went in front with 15 minutes left. Jamie Rooney’s outfit were not going to let this game slip, however, and Gale put the seal on the win to send the Lions players and fans into raptures as the referee blew the final whistle.
Liam Kay tested the visitors early on with a clever kick then after George Nuttall went close Joe Fox showed his strength to crash over for the opening try.
With Jack Beddis, Nuttall and Danny Glassell grafting hard and Fox making his presence felt with big hits in defence Lions held firm. Gale went across field on a solo run to crash over and with Ian Jackson adding the extras it was 10-0.
Jackson then pulled off a superb cover tackle with Lions split wide open on the flank.
Jack Ellam was halted close to the visitors’ line before Lions were put under pressure for a 10 minute spell, but held on with Fox, Sam Millard, Gaz Williamson and Beddis up to the challenge. Crowd favourite Danny Gilbert made a 35-yard break before parting to Richard Dedicoat who was halted just short. The lively Danny Glassell then burst through for a vital try on the stroke of half-time.
The visitors were not going to give up their unbeaten tag without a fight and showed their intensions straight from the start of the second half as they hammered away at the Lions line.
With Danny Thompson having to leave the pitch through injury Lions switched Tom Carr, who made a welcome return to the side, and he pulled off a fine tackle. Pilks swooped on a mistake, however, to score and when they quickly added a second try they were suddenly back in it at 14-10.
Lions were put under some strong pressure now with one attack ending with a player held on the line. Three penalties on the trot put the visitors on the attack again after a brief home rally and they scored out wide with a touchline conversion putting them 16-14 ahead.
Captain Jackson rallied his troops, however, with teenager Jack Ellam inches from scoring. Kay kept Lions on the attack, and although Glassell was twice was caught inches from the line the rangy Gale burst the defence to go over for the matching winning score.
All 34 players gave their all in a game which was a credit to the league. Lions’ next game is on Tuesday when they are away to Normanton (6.45pm kick off).
Lions’ Yorkshire Mens League outfit pulled off a fine 28-10 win over Milford with Kevin Eadie running the show.