Featherstone Lions win survival battle

Featherstone Lions celebrate staying up in Division One of the National Conference. Picture: Dec Hayes
Featherstone Lions celebrate staying up in Division One of the National Conference. Picture: Dec Hayes

Featherstone Lions were celebrating after everything came right for them in their relegation battle on the final day of the season in Division One of the National Conference.

While they did their bit by beating York Acorn 25-24 in a nailbiting last game, thanks to Ian Jackson’s drop-goal on 77 minutes, Normanton Knights also did them a favour by beating Hull Dockers.

That meant the Lions had done enough to stop up, finishing fourth from bottom, ahead of the Dockers on points difference.

Featherstone’s final game was not one for dicky tickers in the second half as the score changed hands a few times with the outcome in doubt right down to the final whistle.

Chris Bingham, Dean Gamble, Gaz Williamson and Danny Glassell were all in the thick of the action for the Lions while backs Ian Jackson, Gaz Gale and Davi Garahan were the pick of the backs with sub James Parry having a storming game after his introduction.

Williamson charged down an early Acorn kick and raced away after picking the ball up to set up the position for the first try. He was held short, but Jackson and Glassell combined to send Garahan over.

Acorn hit back with a converted try, but Bingham, Gamble and Scott Wilson got the Lions back in a good field position for Glassell to go close before Jake Perkins’ fine ball led to Gale sending Jack Ratcliffe over. Jackson kicked the touchline conversion and it was 10-6.

With conditions getting worse with driving rain the game developed into a forward battle, but with Parry, Bingham and Glassell going well Lions kept up the pressure.

With the slope in their favour in the second half Acorn came at the hosts and only strong defence kept them out in a sustained 10-minute spell of pressure. But after Williamson, Parry and Jamie Chappell made some vital yards Gamble sent Glassell over for a try converted by Jackson.

Tom Wandless’s 40-20 kick kept the home team on top and Jackson landed a penalty goal to stretch the lead to 18-6. However, Acorn kept going and made for a nervous finish with two converted tries in five minutes.

Featherstone went back ahead as Glassell beat four men for a super solo try and Jackson’s goal made it 24-18.

Gamble, Garahan and Gale continued to work non-stop for the Lions and Jackson landed a superb 50-yard drop-goal to open up a seven-point lead with three minutes left.

Acorn still had time to reply with a converted try, but the Lions held on and breathed a sigh of relief when a last-gasp drop-goal attempt fell short for York.

The Lions players would like to thank the coaching staff for their efforts this season, team manager Keith Bell for all his hard work, physio Paul Crane and Jack Brown for keeping the pitch in tip top condition.

This Friday night (6.30pm kick-off) Lions under 12s host Lock Lane under 12s in a mouth watering derby game and with both sides going for the championship there will be no quarter given by either.

Lock Lane rounded off their Division One campaign with a 24-4 defeat to second-placed Underbank Rangers.

The Castleford side have finished in sixth place with a record of 11 wins, a draw and 10 losses.

They were behind from an early stage to their visitors and were 12-0 down at half-time after tries by hooker John Birt and stand-off Danny Hirst. Substitute Jack Thompson bagged a brace for Underbank in the second period, with centre Jordan Rice replying for Lane.

Full-back Lewis Price, scrum-half Connor Land and prop Johnny Brummitt impressed for Lock Lane, while Rice was yellow carded for a professional foul.