Featherstone Lions went down to their third defeat on the bounce in Division One of the National Conference when they lost 31-16 to Thornhill Trojans and on their display in the first half they are beginning to look like relegation candidates.
After making a good start to their league season early on coach Paul Dooley knows he has a big task on his hands to get his side back on the winning trail.
A poor first half left them trailing 18-4 at the break, wrecking their chances of winning the game against a Thornhill outfit that was more enthusiastic and are unbeaten since their opening match of the season.
The commitment of some Lions players came under question against opponents who came up better in a physical first half.
Lions did better in the second half, but the visitors sealed the win with two tries in quick succession.
Featherstone started well enough when teenager Conner Paver made a fine take from a early bomb then Tom Carr had a sparkling 45-yard run for the hosts.
Ben Mawson twice went on powerful surges and Scott Wilson went close before Jake Perkins jinked his way over for the first try to give the Lions a 4-0 lead.
But an error soon after saw the visitors make them pay as their pacy full-back, Joel Gibson, raced 75 yards downfield for a try that he converted.
Tom Wandless made a fine take from a bomb before some woeful marking led to a breakaway try, scored by Nick Mitchell and converted by Gibson.
Lions’ hopes were further hit when they had a man put in the sin-bin. Another mistake then saw a player lose the ball in a one-on-one tackle and the visitors raced away for a converted try to make the half-time score 18-4.
Danny Gilbert was introduced in the second half and he made a big impact with a couple of powerful runs at the visitors’ line. Carr made a fine break and Perkins, George Nuttall and Sam Millard all went close.
Comeback hopes were raised as Gilbert crashed through the visitors’ defence for a try. With Ian Jackson adding the extras Featherstone were back to within eight points.
They went close again soon after when a Carr chip to the line was hacked dead. But Thornhill survived the pressure and settled their nerves with a Gibson drop-goal.
Jackson, Carr, Liam Jackson and Dean Gamble put in some good defence, but another mistake on the flank led to a try for winger George Woodcock and five minutes later the Trojans sealed the points with a well worked try finished by Gibson.
Lions kept going as Mawson was halted inches from the line before Gamble went over for a try, Jackson adding the extras.
They will be looking to get back to winning ways at Dudley Hill this Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm), but will have to improve on this showing and start to get their act back together.
Leaders Lock Lane continued their winning ways as they remained in pole position in Division One of the National Conference following a 30-12 home win over relegation-haunted Shaw Cross Sharks.
The victory was founded on a lightning fast start in which Nicky Saxton, Connor Land and Danny Lidbury all crossed for tries to see the hosts open up an 18-0 lead after just 16 minutes.
The Sharks replied with a Richard Whiteman brace, only for the hosts’ Nathan Fozzard to touch down.
With Land kicking his fourth conversion the Castleford-based team were 24-8 ahead and it stayed that way to the interval.
Brandon French popped in on the hour for the visitors to keep the game alive, but the try was not converted.
Lane stayed strong in defence and their line remained intact for the remainder of the game.
They wrapped up their success when Lewis Price dotted down on 74 minutes.
Land landed his fifth conversion to complete a 14-point haul and ensure Lock Lane ran out 30-12 winners to make it eight wins from 11 games and stay ahead of Thornhill Trojans on points difference with both clubs having 16 points.
Lock Lane will be expecting a tough test as they travel to play fifth-placed York Acorn this Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm).