Dynamite Danny Gilbert’s dazzling 75-metre solo try proved a highlight of an impressive 40-12 victory for Featherstone Lions at Normanton Knights in Division One of the National Conference.
Gilbert galloped through the Knights defence from a Lions tap and dummied the full-back to score his superb try in a second half in which the Featherstone side took control.
Lions had kept the home side in the game through conceding silly penalties before they finally took charge.
With a host of key men missing head coach Jamie Rooney called up youngsters again and Danny Thompson, Alfie Jewitt Richard Dedicoat and Harry McAlister all came out of the game with big wraps from team manager Keith Bell.
In-form George Nuttall, with his new hair style, as well as Dedicoat and Jewitt all made good surges into the Normanton half.
Lions were split wide open as the Knights went 75 metres before Dedicoat pulled off a try saving tackle.
Captain Ian Jackson put Lions ahead as he latched onto a stray pass and hared 60 metres to the sticks for a try he converted.
Liam Kay and Thompson split Normanton open wide out only for the ball to be lost on the line. Dedicoat then took a high kick to send Lions back on the attack and Danny Glassell’s solo run saw him inches from scoring. At the other end, Thompson had to make a good pick up from a cheeky Knights chip.
Glassell and Tom Carr were both inches from scoring while McAlister set a fine lead in the pack after being thrown into the fray.
After having a try disallowed moments earlier Jewitt latched onto a Jackson crossfield kick to give Lions a 10-0 half-time lead.
The home side came out fired up for the second half and came up with a converted try almost from the kick-off.
Glassell went close for the Lions then Thompson made a superb 65-metre solo run before parting to the speedy Dedicoat who finished off in fine style, Jackson adding the extras.
The hosts camped on the Lions line for a spell, but with Gamble, Nuttall and Gaz Williamson working non-stop they held the surge. Jackson again split open the Knights and parted to Dedicoat who was held close to the line.
Three penalties on the bounce led to Featherstone letting in a soft try and goal to reduce their lead to 16-12.
Normanton sensed a victory and it needed a Dedicoat try saving tackle on the flank to keep them out.
Crowd favourite Gilbert was fetched back into the action and he powered 45 metres, setting up the platform for Dean Gamble to brush his way through three men for the gamebreaking try. Jackson’s conversion made it 22-12.
Lions seemed to lift up a gear now and from a tap penalty Gilbert hit the ball at pace to power through for his eye-catching try, with Jackson tagging on the extras.
With Jackson and Kay running the show at half-back and Nuttall, McAlister and Glassell making big inroads it was no surprise when that man Gilbert powered over for his second try as he swatted off defenders with ease. Jackson converted.
Lions’ last score was a fine team effort as swift crossfield passing gave pacy teenager Jack Ellam the room on the flank to speed away before dancing his way round the full-back to finish off in style. Jackson again goaled to make it 40-12.
Lions will want to kick on now and keep in touch with the leading teams in the top four. They host Oulton Raiders this Saturday (2.30pm) and with players coming back from holiday and injuries Rooney has some thinking to do before picking his side team.
Manager Bell was quick to thank all the Lions fans that went to the game last week for their great support. The players and coaching staff wish Bailey Barker a healthy recovery after his recent operation.
Lock Lane are back in action this Saturday in a huge game in the Premier Division when they host reigning champions Hunslet Club Parkside (2.30pm).
Victory could lift them into thev top three.