A shocking second 40 minutes saw Featherstone Lions throw away a 12-point half-time lead to lose 22-18 to Stanningley and put rivals Pilkington Recs into pole position to take the National Conference Division One title.
Coach Jamie Rooney was fuming after the game and he did not mince his words as he told his outfit what he thought about their second half display.
The only good thing out of the day was that fellow promotion chasers York Acorn lost to Saddleworth Rangers so Lions still stay second in the table on points difference.
Lions know they need to win their last four league games to have a realistic chance of automatic promotion or they will have to go into the play-offs for the remaining spot.
Take nothing away from Stanningley as they fully deserved their win over Featherstone and kept up their recent five-match winning run. But at times Lions looked lost on attack with too much one man rugby and plenty of players going missing when the hard graft needing doing in the second half.
It looked promising early on as Conner Paver made a good take from a Stanningley miskick to touch and George Nuttall and Dean Gamble went close. Ian Jackson jinked his way over for the opening score and Tom Carr added the conversion.
Danny Thompson made a fine take from a visitors bomb as they tried to hit back straight away and Lions put in some good defence before Danny Gilbert hared 50 metres before sending Jackson in for his second try. With Carr tagging on the conversion it was 12-0.
Teenager Alfie Jewitt and Gamble put in some good defence to keep the visitors out. Paver then took a testing bomb as Stanningley were getting more into the game and Thompson made a try saving tackle.
Jewitt intercepted with a try on for the visitors and sped 50 metres before being caught on the stroke of half-time.
Lions had a man sent to the sin-bin, but remained 12 points up at the break.
Stanningley started the second half strongly and Paver had to make a try saving tackle as he dragged the attacker into touch inches from the line.
The visitors did score in the corner soon after. It should have been the wake-up call for the Lions, but they pressed the self destruction button as schoolboy like tackling saw a Stanningley forward bump off players with ease to score. The conversion made it 12-10 inside five minutes of the restart.
Another sloppy try was allowed and the conversion put the away team ahead for the first time at 16-12.
Gilbert and Jackson tried hard to inject some life into the Lions. Gaz Gale had a tilt, Jake Perkins had a try ruled out. Keiran Redfearn then went on a 45-metre run and Gilbert, Gaz Williamson and Thompson went close before Dean Gamble crashed over with eight minutes left. Carr’s goal put the hosts back ahead.
However, the visitors, to their credit, spread the ball about and their centre raced 65 metres as he chipped ahead and followed up for a superb effort. The conversion was added to make it 22-18.
In the final minutes Lions had another man sent to the bin to end a shocking 40 minutes.
They must now quickly get their act together for this Saturday’s tough encounter at Dewsbury Moor (2.30pm kick-off), which will not be for the feint hearted after a feisty game between the teams at Featherstone earlier in the season.
The players, coaching staff and all at the Lions would like to congratulate Danny Glassell and Kimberley Cording on the birth of their son Oliver, while everyone wishes George Nuttall and Liam Kay a quick a heathy comeback from their recent injuries.
Bob Cunningham and Darren Roberts’ Yorkshire Men’s League outfit kept up their winning ways with Lions earning a 40-28 revenge victory over Myton Warriors after taking a 60-point hammering at Hull earlier in the season.
The young outfit, with an average age of 19, took command after a close first 40 minutes had seen them 16-14 ahead. Jack Townend got four tries with Jacob Bryan. Lewis Jackson and William Saddler also scoring and Bryden Bennett tagging on five goals with Josh Blackmore kicking one.