Late tries by Ridyard and Thackeray seal impressive Featherstone’s opening day win over Halifax

Luke Briscoe scored Featherstone's first try against Halifax this afternoon.

FEATHERSTONE began the new season the same way they started and ended last year’s campaign by beating Betfred Championship top-four rivals Halifax.

Rovers bossed the first-half and shot ahead with two early tries but Halifax clawed their way back to be only four points adrift at the break.

The home side sealed a 20-4 win in the final quarter when Martyn Ridyard bagged a clever try and then set up a touchdown for Anthony Thackeray.

Mitch Clark, a loan signing from Castleford Tigers and son of former Featherstone hooker Trevor Clark, made his Rovers debut from the bench.

Castleford dual-registered players Jy Hitchcox and Alex Foster faced their old club along with other ex-Featherstone players Will Sharp and Ben Kaye.

Rovers, who finished fourth in the Championship last season, one place below Halifax, applied all the early pressure after forcing a goalline drop out from the kick-off.

Playing down the slope, they took a fifth minute lead when captain Ian Hardman put in Luke Briscoe at the corner for an unconverted try.

Connor Farrell was held up over the line before the hosts doubled their lead in the 11th minute when former Samoan international Misi Taulapapa, who had an outstanding game, made the opening for former Swinton Lions winger Shaun Robinson to dive over in style on his competitive Rovers debut.

Ridyard put in an excellent 40-20 as Featherstone’s domination continued with them enjoying the lion’s share of the possession.

After starting badly, Halifax then came far more into the game.

Ben Heaton was bundled into touch near the corner, the same player went close again from skipper Scott Murrell’s kick and Brandon Douglas was halted just short as the visitors began to play with more confidence.

They cut the gap to 8-4 when Heaton scored shortly before half-time after capitalising on a neat kick by Murrell whose conversion attempt struck a post.

Hardman was unable to ground the ball over the try line early in the second-half when he was foiled by Sharp’s last-ditch tackle.

Featherstone lost the injured Robinson following an incident that was put on report by referee Gareth Hewer.

Rovers then struck an important blow in the 63rd minute when the classy Ridyard, a close-season signing from Leigh Centurions, exchanged passes with Farrell to dart over for a try he also converted.

They made sure of victory 10 minutes later when Ridyard’s long pass put in Thackeray, with Ridyard adding both conversions.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Briscoe, Hardcastle, Taulapapa, Robinson; Ridyard, Holmes; Cooper, Carlile, Wheeldon, Farrell, Davies, Moore. Subs: Thackeray, Hock, Mariano, Clark.

Halifax: Sharp; Heaton, Woodburn-Hall, Tyrer, Hitchcox; Murrell, Johnston; Maher, Kaye, Morris, Barber, Grix, Fairbank. Subs: Fleming, Douglas, Moore, Foster.

Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven).

Attendance: 2,743.

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