Poor start costly for Rovers in Grand Final defeat

Will Sharp's two tries were in vain for  Featherstone Rovers. Picture: BOB NUNN
Will Sharp's two tries were in vain for Featherstone Rovers. Picture: BOB NUNN

Featherstone Rovers never fully recovered from a shaky start as they lost 36-12 to Leigh Centurions in Sunday’s Championship Grand Final at Headingley.

Will Sharp’s two tries were in vain for Rovers who were 18-0 down after 20 minutes in their fourth defeat against the table-topping Centurions this season.

Trailing 20-6 at half-time, Rovers played much better in the second-half and looked capable of turning the game round when Sharp bagged his second touchdown to reduce the deficit to eight points but they then were out of luck when Luke Teasdale had an effort ruled out.

Featherstone fell behind after six minutes when Sean Penkywicz, Tom Armstrong and Liam Kay split open their defence to send in Matt Sarsfield and Martyn Ridyard converted with the first of his six goals.

Leigh caused Rovers plenty of problems early on with quick play the balls and slick play out wide.

Shaun Pick snapped up a loose ball five yards from his own try line to relieve further pressure on Featherstone.

When Rovers threatened for the first time, Ryan Brierley rescued Leigh with a try saving tackle on Gareth Moore 10 yards from the try line after the scrum-half supported a great break by Andy Ellis.

But Leigh continued to look the sharper side and Featherstone had a mountainous task when the Centurions stretched their lead to 18-0 with tries from Greg McNally and Armstrong, both goaled by Ridyard.

Rovers gave themselves hope in the 27th minute when Andy Kain put in a clever kick and Sharp plucked the ball out of the air to score a try that Moore improved to cut the gap to 18-6.

Featherstone then had a let-off when Leigh’s Martin Aspinwall had an effort ruled out by the video referee after chasing a kick before the Centurions edged further ahead with Ridyard’s 37th minute penalty goal to make it 20-6 at half-time.

Pick lost the ball close to the try line as Rovers started the second-half strongly.

With the aid of a string of penalties, Featherstone had plenty of possession and they took advantage in the 50th minute when Ian Hardman sent in Sharp for a well-taken try at the corner and Moore added a touchline goal via a post.

Matt James was held up over the try line as Rovers pressed again.

Young hooker Teasdale then forced his way over beneath the posts but video referee Ben Thaler disallowed the effort because of obstruction by James Lockwood.

Ten minutes from time, Rovers winger Jason Crookes was sin-binned for a high tackle and Leigh’s Penkywicz was shown a yellow card for retaliation and a minute later the Centurions sealed victory when Sam Barlow charged over and Ridyard goaled.

They Centurions completed the scoring in the final minute with Ryan Brierley’s 43rd try of the season

Featherstone Rovers: Sharp; Crookes, Hardman, Cording, Blackmore; Kain, Moore; Crossley, Ellis, James, Pick, Lockwood, Spears. Subs: Teasdale, Annakin, Hirst, Bussey.

Leigh Centurions: McNally; Higson, Platt, Armstrong, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Emmitt, Penkywicz, Wilkes, Sarsfield, Haggerty, Barlow. Subs: Beswick, Walker, Acton, Aspinwall.

Referee: Matthew Thomason.