LOCK LANE will be back in the top flight next year after everything went right for them on the final day of the regular season in the National Conference.
The Castleford outfit leap-frogged Leigh Miners Rangers into second place – and, with that, secured automatic promotion – courtesy of a 30-22 win at Skirlaugh, while the Miners lost 38-16 at Pilkington Recs.
Skirlaugh went in front in the third minute through Alex Gilbey’s try and Carl Puckering’s goal but Lane, who had won 22-18 on their own patch, found themselves 18-6 up 23 minutes later thanks to improved tries by Danny Holmes, Curt Macdonald and Tom Newbold.
Nathan Sykes and Tyler Pelham hit back for the hosts before half-time, Reece Dean adding a goal to reduce the deficit to 18-16. But Lane, despite having Holmes sin-binned two minutes after the restart for a professional foul, eased eight points clear with a Connor Land touchdown.
Skirlaugh, whose top-six bid had ended the previous week, had their hopes of winning on the last day of their campaign effectively ended when Dean and Sam Heppell were sin-binned in a three-minute spell approaching the hour, for use of the elbow, and transgressing a team warning, respectively.
Land added his second try and his fifth goal as Heppell trooped off and Pelham’s touchdown on 72 minutes, which Puckering goaled, was no more than a consolation effort for the home side.
Featherstone Lions are heading for the Division One play-offs, but lost their last league game of the season as they went down 18-12 at Milford Marlins.
They felt aggrieved at several decisions from the officials, particularly how many times they were penalised when within striking distance of the home line.
Davi Garahan had his best game of the season for the Lions, making constant good yards, while in-form pack man Scott Glassell and brother Danny did well with Dean Gamble and Harry McAllister both putting in big defence stints.
But the Lions were caught out in the middle of the park early on and Marlins made them pay with a converted try.
Gamble’s big shot on a Milford player got Featherstone going and Garahan went on a fine solo run before Danny Glassell was held inches from the line.
Marlins stretched their lead with a penalty and from the restart a home prop raced 65 yards down the middle through bad marking by the Lions. They survived the following pressure, however, and hit back as Ian Jackson took a quick tap on his own 25 before racing up field. He parted to Jake Perkins who then slipped a fine ball to Danny Glassell who raced 50 yards to outpace the home cover to the try line. With Jackson’s conversion coming off the post it was 8-4 and that was how it stayed to half-time.
In the second half Perkins split Marlins open, but Rich Frankland was caught short of the line. Jackson then made a fine take from a Milford bomb, but weak marking led to a try and goal for the hosts.
Lions rallied with Scott Glassell being instrumental in splitting open the home defence. After he went close brother Danny sent in Joe Powell wide out and it was 14-8 with Jackson’s conversion again hitting the post.
Milford then got the gamebreaking try when the Lions were caught out on the flank.
They kept going with McAllister doing a lot of work in defence. Scott Glassell again split open the home defence and Frankland chipped over only for the ball to be hacked dead.
In the closing minutes Scott Glassell and Gaz Gale went close before teenager Jack Ellam went in for a late try for the Lions who will now want to bounce back from a below par display for their semi-final. If they should win the play-off the final is at Featherstone Rovers’ ground so there is plenty of incentive there alone.
The Lions are up against Leigh MW with the play-off semi-final away this Saturday, kick-off 2.30pm.