Battling Rovers pipped after superb fightback

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "I think we surprised everyone with what we've done and how well we've played."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "I think we surprised everyone with what we've done and how well we've played."

Injury-hit Featherstone suffered a narrow defeat for the second successive home league game when they were pipped 30-24 by Championship leaders Leigh Centurions in a gripping clash at Big Fellas Stadium.

Featherstone’s magnificent fightback fell just short after they recovered from 22-8 down at half-time to level the scores.

They were edged out in a nail-biting finish but coach Jon Sharp was proud of his side’s performance.

Sharp said: “We had our chances to win the game but looking at the positives I think we surprised everyone with what we’ve done and how well we’ve played. We were disappointed that we’ve not come up with the goods.”

Featherstone’s defeat was tough on Darrell Griffin, Anthony Thackeray and Andy Ellis who were outstanding in an incident-packed game in which referee Jamie Child awarded 23 penalties and sin-binned Leigh’s Gareth Hock and Jamie Acton in separate incidents.

Featherstone made a great start when Ellis went over from acting half and Kyran Johnson kicked his second goal to put them 8-0 up but Leigh stormed back.

After Tom Armstrong grabbed a try, substitute Acton made an immediate impact.

Micky Higham’s pass put in Acton for a 25th minute touchdown and two minutes later Acton’s powerful run created a try for Rangi Chase, recalled after missing Leigh’s last eight games.

Featherstone’s injury problems increased when they lost young half-back Will Milner with an ankle injury five minutes before half-time.

Hock was sin-binned two minutes later but Leigh shrugged off his absence.

They stretched their lead to 14 points on the stroke of half-time when Martyn Ridyard hoisted a high kick and Armstrong knocked the ball back for Lee Smith to grab a touchdown.

Leigh were reduced to 11 men when Acton was sin-binned early in the second-half and Featherstone quickly capitalised when Ian Hardman put in Bradley Tagg.

Adam Higson then rescued the Centurions with a superb try-saving tackle to foil Liam Blockley before further Rovers pressure saw Thackeray and John Davies combine to send in Misi Taulapapa.

Ridyard kicked a penalty to put Leigh 24-18 ahead but Rovers squared matters in the 59th minute when Johnson crossed at the corner and added a touchline conversion.

The Centurions then struck a vital blow five minutes later when Ridyard’s kick to the corner saw Liam Kay score.

Ridyard kicked another penalty edge Leigh six points ahead and they survived Featherstone’s late onslaught.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Johnson, Tagg, Taulapapa, Blockley; Milner, Thackeray; Griffin, Ellis, Bostock, Cording, Davies, Spears. Subs (used): Cooper, Ormondroyd, Baldwinson. Not used: Macdonald.

Leigh Centurions: Smith; Higson, Whiting, Armstrong, Kay; Ridyard, Chase; Hansen, Higham, Weston, Maitua, Hock, Paterson. Subs (all used): Hood, Hopkins, Emmitt, Acton.

Referee: James Child (RFL).

Attendance: 2,731.