Featherstone Lions reached the National Conference Division One play-off final when they survived a tense finish to emerge with a deserved 26-18 win over Milford Marlins.
Jamie Rooney’s men will now play Skirlaugh Bulls this Sunday with a place in the Premiership at stake in the final, which is being played at Widnes Vikings’ Halton Stadium (12.30pm).
The Lions had to dig in deep in the last 15 minutes as they held off strong Marlin pressure, but their defence was superb with Danny Glassell, Jack Townend, Gaz Gale and Joe Fox all pulling off try saving tackles.
Featherstone were trailing 14-12 at the break and had to come up the slope, but Scott Glassell had his best game of the season, scoring two tries and landing three goals until having to leave the field injured.
Dean Gamble set a superb lead in the middle along with George Nuttall and Danny Glassell while Gale and Josh Hardcastle made strong inroads in the centres. Interchanges Brendon Gibbins, James Kitchen, Adam Hepworth and Jacob Jowett also pulled out all the stops in the last 15 minutes.
Lions went behind to a penalty before Gale made a break. Townend then went close before swift handling led to Jake Perkins sending Sam Wilson dashing over for a try converted from the touchline by Liam Kay.
Milford responded with a try, but Featherstone went back in front as Gale ripped out the ball in a one-on-one tackle and raced 55 yards for a superb individual effort. Kay goaled from the touchline to make it 12-8.
A penalty reduced Marlins’ deficit to two points and they went ahead again with their second try on the stroke of half-time after a chip was fumbled.
Stern words at the break from Fox and Scott Glassell seemed to have a big impact as Lions started the second half well. After a Kitchen burst, Scott Glassell chipped through and followed up to go over for a try he converted. He then nudged Featherstone further ahead with a penalty before scoring a second try when backing up brother Danny who had made a superb 50-yard break. Scott’s conversion made it 26-14.
Milford kept going and scored an unconverted try. They then hammered at the Lions line for the remainder, but the hosts defended for their lives with teenager Jowett making a great late tackle.
Coach Rooney said he was a proud coach and the lads had deserved to get to the final after all the hard work they had put in all season. He also thanked the Lions fans for their superb backing again.
For anyone interested in cheering the Lions on in the final there will be a supporters bus leaving Millpond Stadium at 9am. Contact Alan Widdowson on 07710883669 to book a seat.