John Duffy was able to celebrate his first victory as Featherstone Rovers head coach as his team saw off a late fight back by Halifax to record a 26-20 victory at the MBI Shay Stadium in the final game of the season.
The win means Featherstone finish in seventh place in the Qualifiers and earn an extra £50,000 in prize money over their West Yorkshire rivals.
They were ahead for much of the game and had the more solid game throughout to deservedly take the spoils.
Halifax exerted some early pressure that came to nothing after they forced a goal-line drop-out. The closest they came to scoring was when Mitch Cahalane was held up over the line.
Rovers did open the scoring on eight minutes when John Davies powered over the line from close range and Ian Hardman added the conversion.
Further attacks looked promising, but a dangerous Matty Wildie grubber kick came to nothing and the hosts survived.
A Ben Heaton break raised Halifax hopes only for the move to end with a penalty to the visitors.
Hardman stretched Featherstone’s lead to eight points as he kicked a penalty and they came close to a second try when a decent move ended with Frankie Mariano losing the ball inches short of the try-line.
Misi Taulapapa was next to go close only to be dragged into touch not far short.
Another chance went begging when Luke Cooper was held up on the last tackle and Rovers paid the price as their opponents scored just before the break.
Former Featherstone hooker Ben Kaye powered his way over and with Steve Tyrer adding the extras it was 8-6 at half-time.
Rovers started the second half with a bang as Anthony Thackeray came up with a 40-20 kick to win possession for his team in a strong position. From the resulting set Luke Briscoe followed up a Kyle Briggs kick to touch the ball down over the line and Hardman’s conversion made it 14-6.
Halifax were quick to hit back, however, as Briscoe was judged to have lost the ball in a tackle to hand possession back to the hosts and they took full advantage with Mitch Cahalane sent over for a try converted by Tyrer.
Handling mistakes blighted both teams’ play for a spell and Rovers breathed a sigh of relief when Scott Murrell lost the ball in aiming to get it down over the line.
From the next set Wildie made a break for Featherstone and was held down in the tackle to result in Halifax’s Jacob Fairbank being sin-binned.
The visitors quickly took advantage of their extra man with an overlap created and Mariano racing in for a try to which Hardman added the extras.
Another big chance was soon created only for Heaton to intercept for the hosts with the line begging.
The home side bombed a chance next when their ex-Fev man Will Sharp knocked-on near the line.
But there was no stopping Taulapapa when he collected Davies’s fine pass to romp over for what was effectively the match winning try. Hardman’s goal made it 26-12.
Again Halifax quickly hit back with Worrincy intercepting Davies’s pass and racing fully 90 metres for a spectacular score.
They kept going and made it a tense finish when winger Heaton raced over five minutes from time, although Tyrer could not add the conversion.
Featherstone held on, however, to end their season on a high note.
Tensions boiled over right at the close as Rovers forward Richard Moore and Halifax winger Heaton were both sent off following a fracas.
Scorers - Halifax: Tries Kaye, Cahalane, Worrincy, Heaton; goals Tyrer 2. Featherstone: Tries Davies, Briscoe, Mariano, Taulapapa; goals Hardman 5.
Halifax: Sharp; Heaton, Barber, Tyrer, Worrincy; Murrell, Johnson; Morris, Moore, Tangata, Grady, Cahalane, Grix. Subs: Kaye, Fairbank, Sio, Calcott.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Taulapapa, Walters, Hardcastle, Briscoe; Wildie, Thackeray; Griffin, Carlile, Moore, Davies, Mariano, Lockwood. Subs: Briggs, Cooper, Brooks, Baldwinson.
Referee: Tom Grant.