FEATHERSTONE Rovers maintained their 100 per cent record in the Northern Rail Cup’s group stages with Sunday’s 33-22 victory over York City Knights at Huntington Stadium.
Although Rovers were below their best, they were still too good for York, who scored two tries in the last 10 minutes to make the contest look closer than it was.
Featherstone led 16-0 in the first-half and 32-12 in the second period but they missed a string of chances and failed to achieve the winning margin their dominance deserved.
York battled to the end to collect a bonus point from an untidy match played in slippery conditions.
Matty Dale and Jonny Grayshon were outstanding in the Rovers pack and Bryn Powell showed good touches.
Liam Finn provided the organisation and chipped in with a try and four goals from six kicks.
Coach Daryl Powell (pictured) was pleased with the way his team ground out victory.
“We gave little bits away that were uncharacteristic but at the end of the day it was important we won the game and we managed to do that with a tough performance against a strong team, “ he said.
“They were tricky conditions. A tight pitch and the wind made it more difficult than anything else. The pitch is very narrow and with the wind and the rain it didn’t allow an expansive game.
“We struggled a little bit to break York down and there were areas of our game we need to highlight and improve.
“York have a pretty robust side. They’ve some big fellows and a couple of half-backs who have a smart kicking game and will put you under pressure.
“However, overall we were well in control of the game. They scored a couple of late tries, one from a kick that was five or six metres offside and another from an intercept.”
With Finn dictating play, Rovers dominated the early stages.
Powell had an effort ruled out for a foot in touch before substitute forward Iain Morrison put Rovers ahead in the 17th minute when, from a kick on the last tackle, he reacted quickest to gather and touch down.
Dale then burrowed over from acting half before Rovers made it 16-0 on the half-hour mark when Tommy Saxton scored from Finn’s high kick.
Featherstone then seemed to take their foot off the gas and had their lead reduced to just four points.
Ryan Esders forced his way through for a 33rd minute try and John Davies, signed on a dual registration from Castleford Tigers, capped a hard-working display by crossing four minutes later.
Chris Thorman added both conversions to put the Knights firmly back in contention.
Former Featherstone centre Ian Bell, who had his first York outing this season from the substitute’s bench, was sin-binned in the 42nd minute for a late challenge on Morrison.
Rovers capitalised on the extra man to score two tries.
Zak Hardaker outpaced the defence to score before Powell’s excellent run paved the way for Ian Hardman to send in Andy Bostock.
With 13 minutes left, Featherstone stretched their lead to 20 points when Finn finished a lovely flowing move to bag their sixth touchdown.
But, just like they did towards the end of the first-half, Rovers then seemed to ease up and it allowed the Knights to pick up a bonus point with late tries from ex-Featherstone player Jonny Presley and Esders, with his second of the afternoon.
Scorers - York: tries Esders (2), Davies, Presley; goals Thorman (3). Featherstone: tries Morrison, Dale, Saxton, Hardaker, Bostock, Finn; goals Finn (4).
York City Knights: Tuffour; Sutton, Garside, Waterman, Wilson; Thorman, Presley; Massey, Lee, Jones, Davies, Esders, Stamp. Subs: Stearman, Barlow, Lewis, Bell.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Powell, Smeaton, Worthington, Saxton; Kain, Finn; Tonks, Kaye, Dickens, Grayshon, Spears, Dale. Subs: Morrison, Dee, Bostock, Hardaker.
Referee: Gareth Hewer.