Failure to turn pressure into points cost Featherstone Lions as they made a disappointing losing start to the season in Division One of the National Conference.
In a match they knew they should have won the Lions were the best side for most of the game, but after taking too many wrong options near the line they were edged out 22-16 at promotion favourites Wigan St Patrick’s.
St Pats’ defence did hold out well, however, and the Featherstone team’s head coach, Jamie Rooney, said he could not fault his lads’ effort.
Lions started well and put the first points on the board when a Scott Glassell ball gave in-form Gaz Gale space to attack and he knocked aside three men in a fine 65-yard run to the sticks for the opening try. Ian Jackson added the conversion to make it 6-0.
A second try could have soon followed, but Lions knocked on inches from the hosts’ line. A mistake then led to Wigan crossing the line for their first try and the game was level when they added the conversion.
Scott Glassell, Rich Frankland and George Nuttall put in some good defence for the Lions and a Scott Glassell break saw Ben Mawson go close before a Jackson chip led to Nuttall touching down and Jackson converting.
Nuttall, Harry McAllister, Josh Maiden and Conner Paver put in fine tackling close to the line, but a string of silly penalties saw St Pats go over for two tries and a conversion to turn the game round and go into half-time with a 16-12 lead.
Lions started off the better of the sides in the second half with Nuttall, Brendan Gibbins and Mawson making big inroads.
After Nuttall was held close to the line Jake Perkins parted to Daniel Glassell and his superb run and pass saw teenager Jack Ellam finish off well in the corner to level the game again at 16-16.
Lions kept up the pressure, but taking the wrong options on a couple of times saw Pats hold out.
The Wigan side hit back, taking advantage of a bomb to score what was to prove the match winning try. The conversion was added to make it 22-16.
Lions piled on the pressure and Scott Glassell looked to have come up with a try only for the referee to rule his effort out after consulting his touch judge.
Minutes later Glassell put in a fine hit to regain the ball for the Lions and they did not give in. With Nuttall working himself to a standstill and McAllister and Gale doing lots of damage they looked to have secured at least a draw as teenager Paver went over in the corner. But to the Featherstone team’s amazement again the referee ruled out a try after speaking with his touch judge.
Coach Rooney and the Lions players will want to put this loss to bed as they go for a victory when they travel to play York Acorn in the third round of the Coral Challenge Cup this Saturday.