FEATHERSTONE Lions were knocked out of the National Conference League Challenge Trophy with Saturday’s 35-12 defeat at Milford Marlins.
Nothing went Featherstone’s way throughout the game.
Milford had the benefit of a handful of 50-50 rulings and that seemed to knock the stuffing out of depleted Lions who wilted in the hot conditions.
Featherstone coach Jamie Rooney was full of praise for his side’s courageous display and felt they were badly handicapped by debatable decisions.
Lions were 6-4 ahead until shortly before half-time when Milford took advantage of having six consecutive sets to score a converted try with the last play of the half to lead at the break.
The visitors lacked numerous men through injuries and holiday commitments but their effort could not be faulted.
Gaz Gale, Gaz Williamson, Harry McAllister, Dean Gamble and Jamie Chappell, who had his best ever game for Lions, were in outstanding form.
Chappell and Gale set a good platform for Lions in the opening stages.
Tom Wandless, Gale and Williamson all went close before Lions had a player sin-binned.
Despite this setback, they opened the scoring in excellent style when Williamson made a 35-yard run and fed skipper Ian Jackson who sped away from the cover and converted his own try.
Milford pressed strongly but Lions held firm, with Danny Glassell and Gamble outstanding in defence.
The home side eventually found a gap out wide to open their account and then snatched the lead on the stroke of half-time.
They struck again early in the second-half to increase their advantage to 16-6.
Jack Ratcliffe made a fine clearing run from a chip through and Davi Garahan made a solo run before Lions hit back.
Sam Millard swooped on a loose ball and raced 35 yards before passing to Wandless who went in for a try that Jackson improved to cut the gap to 16-12.
Crucial decisions then went against Featherstone.
Gale made a superb run but he was ruled to have lost the ball and was then penalised.
Milford took advantage by scoring a converted try to go 22-12 up. Lions kept battling away but then suffered another major setback when Milford scored a converted try despite a blatant knock on.
Featherstone’s Scott Wilson then had an effort ruled out for a forward forward before Milford scored again to finishing with a flattering win.
Lions will now aim to continue their revival in NCL Division One when they host Wigan side Ince Rose Bridge at Mill Pond Stadium on Saturday in a vital relegation four-pointer.
Lock Lane will be looking to revive their promotion bid when they return to action on Saturday with a trip to leaders Underbank Rangers.