Featherstone Rovers 22 Widnes Vikings 4: Incredible defensive effort reaps rewards for in-form Featherstone

Featherstone Rovers. PIC: James Heaton.
Featherstone Rovers. PIC: James Heaton.

Featherstone Rovers' rise up the Betfred Championship table shows no signs of slowing down.

Ryan Carr's side defeated Widnes Vikings on Sunday afternoon to record their sixth-straight win and move to within two points of second-placed Toulouse.

As suggested by the 22-4 scoreline, it was a victory built on defensive solidity with Featherstone looking near-impenetrable in front of a buoyant home support.

There was little between the sides in terms of quality, something that had been highlighted in their attacking and defensive returns this campaign.

Prior to kick off, Rovers had scored 102 tries in 2019 compared to Widnes' 101 while the Vikings had conceded 60 tries to Featherstone's 62.

A deluge of rain in the minutes leading up to the game didn't help the quality of the contest, with slippery conditions causing problems for both teams.

Attacking moves were disrupted by knocks on while a number of grubber kicks skidded dead.

The home side hit the front early on when Alex Sutcliffe won the race to ground Dane Chisholm's neat grubber.

Featherstone had to defend for long spells in the first 40, but refused to crack under Widnes pressure.

One of the biggest cheers of the afternoon came when Anthony Gelling took the ball near the line but was then carried 10 metres and bundled into touch by a host of Featherstone defenders.

The Vikings thought they had scored on 25 minutes when a loose ball bobbled around the in-goal but the referee indicated that a Featherstone hand had grounded the ball first.

Chisholm edged the hosts ahead on the half-hour mark as he slotted a penalty goal between the posts.

The half-back then put Rovers on the front foot with a brilliant 40/20 kick but they couldn't make the most of it as the score remained 8-0 at the break.

More determined defence from Rovers at the start of the second half soon reaped rewards.

Featherstone came up with the ball after an early spell of Widnes pressure before earning a penalty 10 metres from the whitewash.

They took the tap and it proved the correct call as Tom Holmes looped a lovely pass out to winger Conor Carey who strode over unopposed.

The home defence was finally breached on the hour as Widnes worked the ball swiftly across the line to Ryan Ince who dived over.

It proved a consolation in the end, as the match-winning moment came with around seven minutes to go.

Cameron King dropped a short pass off to Holmes who snuck through the tackles and stretched his arm out to score on the right.

Widnes mounted an assault on the home line in the remaining moments but, as for the majority of the afternoon, they simply couldn't get through.

Alex Sutcliffe put the icing on the cake as he picked up a loose ball from Keanan Brand and dived over just after the full-time hooter. Chisholm converted.

Featherstone Rovers: Golding, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Hardcastle, Carey, Holmes, Chisholm, Wheeldon, Ferguson, Day, Walters, Lockwood. Subs: Cooper, Harrison, Makatoa, Ormondroyd.

Widnes Vikings: Owens, Hatton, Gelling, Brand, Ince, Craven, Lyons, Cahill, Johnstone, Chapelhow, Wilde, Dean, Leuluai. Subs: E. Chapelhow, Ganson, Norman, Walker.

Referee: Michael Mannifield