Defence delights Jamie Rooney as Featherstone Lions earn place in play-off final

Featherstone Lions celebrate reaching the National Conference Division One play-off final. Picture: Jonathan Buck
Featherstone Lions celebrate reaching the National Conference Division One play-off final. Picture: Jonathan Buck

Featherstone Lions are one game away from promotion to the top flight of the National Conference after winning through to the Division One play-off final.

Jamie Rooney’s men will face Stanningley in a final to be played at Featherstone Rovers’ LD Nutrition Stadium on Saturday, October 5 (12.30pm).

An outstanding defensive display was at the heart of a 30-2 victory over Wigan St Patricks at the Mill Pond Stadium last Saturday as the visitors were prevented from scoring a single try in the 80 minutes of the semi-final.

Coach Rooney described the defensive performance as the best of the season while Danny Gilbert, who is something of a cult hero with the Lions fans, took the man of the match award with a non-stop display and was pushed hard by Dean Gamble who put in some tremendous big hits.

Gaz Gale and Gaz Williamson caused the visitors loads of problems along with Scott Glassell who did a lot of the unseen work to take lions into the final.

Super sub Ben Mawson made plenty of yards as he made a welcome return to the side. With two key men dropping out on the morning of the game Rooney had to rejig his side, but they responded to his pre-match words with a fine display.

It was not all plain sailing as the Wigan outfit made them fight all the way until Scott Glassell’s fine solo run and inch perfect chip saw Jake Perkins go over for the gamebreaking score.

Initially Ian Jackson nudged Featherstone ahead with a penalty goal, but the visitors levelled it up with a penalty.

The defence had to be spot on as Pats tried their best to break them down, but with Gamble, Gale and Williamson working their socks off Lions held firm.

Danny Thompson went close with a fine run then Gale and Mike Wise both had tilts before Gilbert latched onto a fine Jackson pass and brushed away four men before parting to Tom Wandless who went over the whitewash. Jackson’s conversion made it 8-2.

Williamson and Davi Garahan went close before the Lions lost Thompson with a shoulder injury. Jackson landed a penalty to stretch the lead by two more points and they defended their line superbly when coming under the rack for a spell.

Gamble, Scott Glassell and Keiron Redfearn all put in a big stint. Mawson led Lions on a charge up the field and Aussie Wise was held inches short, but quick thinking Scott Glassell burrowed his way over from acting half for a try.

The impressive Gale then pulled off a try saving tackle on half-time.

Pocket battleship Josh Maiden took it to Pats after the break along with Gamble, Gale and Williamson and a superb Scott Glassell bomb was made a mess of by the Wigan full-back with Danny Glassell picking up to score a try. Jackson’s touchline goal made it 20-2.

Scott Glassell made a 35-yard run before chipping through for Perkins to swoop and go over for the killer try that was converted by Jackson.

Lions had two men sent to the sin-bin as the game got niggly, but their win was in the bag when they added another try as fast hands led to Jack Ellan finishing off well wide out.

Jackson took a testing high bomb to preserve the lead and Gale pulled off a superb cover tackle as the ref blew for time.

Lions are now hoping to have some good support from local fans on their big day to come in the play-off final.

Jamie Rooney and all at Featherstone Lions would like to pass on their condolences to the family of Mark Scoffins, a local legend who sadly passed away at the weekend.