Rover and out for Powell’s men

Rovers full-back Ian Hardman played against his old club St Helens on Sunday.
Rovers full-back Ian Hardman played against his old club St Helens on Sunday.

FEATHERSTONE Rovers battled well in the first-half before bowing out of the Carnegie Challenge Cup with a 70-0 defeat against St Helens at Halton Stadium.

Rovers looked as though they would push St Helens all the way when they competed strongly in the opening 40 minutes of Sunday’s fifth round tie.

However, they collapsed in the second-half on their first visit to Saints for 16 years.

Rovers coach Daryl Powell said: “We were pretty good in the first-half but the second-half was unacceptable.”

Featherstone, who were without Tommy Saxton, Tony Tonks, Nathan Chappell, Andy Kain, Iain Morrison and cuptied Kirk Netherton, were only 12-0 behind until five minutes before half-time.

However, Saints cut loose after the break to run out easy winners.

Saints, without 11 injured first team players, handed Warren Thompson his debut off the bench alongside Scott Hale who made his senior bow in last week’s 40-18 defeat at Huddersfield.

Thompson marked the occasion with a first half try with Jamie Foster booting 11 goals from 12 attempts and Jon Wilkin landing the man of the match award.

Rovers full-back Ian Hardman, a former St Helens player, prevented an early Foster try by barging the winger into touch after a bright start by Rovers.

But Saints went ahead in the 11th minute when Francis Meli, who looked suspiciously offside, latched onto Jon Wilkin’s grubber kick and Foster converted.

Rovers caused Saints problems with desperate defence needed to keep out Ross Divorty.

Saints missed a chance to extend their lead with a poor pass from Meli to Paul Wellens with Matty Ashurst held up over the line.

But the stubborn Rovers resistance was breached by bulldozing forward Thompson after 25 minutes and Foster’s conversion calmed the Saints nerves.

Liam Finn’s promptings from scrum half caused problems for Saints who managed to go further ahead with Wellens taking Nathan Ashe’s pass from James Roby’s break to make it 18-0 five minutes before the break.

Ade Gardner was denied by a superb Andy Bostock tackle from Wellens’ pass.

Featherstone almost snatched a deserved try but neither Bryn Powell or Mufaro Mvududu could collect Tom Hemingway’s teasing kick to leave them trailing 18-0 at half-time.

James Graham gave Saints the perfect start to the second half by blasting over with Foster adding his fourth conversion.

Ashe added the fifth try from a looping inside ball from Foster with an element of a forward pass in the build-up to increase the lead to 30-0 after 51 minutes.

England centre Michael Shenton weaved his way over for a scorching solo effort before Matty Ashurst added to Featherstone’s woes as their first half effort began to take its toll.

Tom Makinson finished off a slick handling move to make it 48-0 before adding his second two minutes later.

Sol Soliola forced his way over for Saints 10th try eight minutes from time but there was still time for Shenton and Tom Armstrong to add further touchdowns.