PICTURE FOCUS: Featherstone Lions earn three straight National Conference League wins
In a fluid first half the visitors dominated both possession and territory and it was only a matter of time before their workhorse of a loose striker Ollie Bartle crashed in for a try converted.
Much to the Lions’ relief, Bradford’s impressive number nine failed to hold a smart chip and chase, but it wasn’t long before hooker Archie Halmshaw made amends for his digging spill a phalanx of Lions defenders for classic acting. – half-back test.
The extras were added and the Lions were out of the running on the scoreboard despite some game defense from the returning Harry MacAllister and Leo Brown.
Under further pressure and another imminent set of six to defend, the game turned on a kick from Liam Kay. A nifty goal-line drop grubber who just crossed the 10-yard line in front of the posts put Bowling to sleep. Full-back Kay collected his own kick and made quick progress before being carried close to the halfway line. A quick play of the ball and Lions’ Kieran Redfearn was wide down the left flank to score in the corner.
Another score soon followed as the timeless Jake Perkins edged past the defenders for the first of his afternoon tries. The West Bowling coach was ramping up the invective with plenty to say to his troops as Kay added the conversion.
With the last play of the half the Lions were back in the red zone and Mike Wise’s clever reverse kick caught the defense off guard and with a well-aimed ricochet off the post Perkins won the ball back for his second try to set up the Lions. forward with Kay’s two extra points, making it 16-12 at the break.
The fire and brimstone handed out at half time seemed to work for the visitors as just after the interval their scrum half rushed in for a try which he converted.
West Bowling now had the nose in front (18-16) but Featherstone was not finished. In the same spirit that was evident in Wigan last week, Josh Maden ran the forwards hard, Chris Bingham once again impressive leading youngsters Jake Roberts and strong duo of bench runners Alex Land and Connor Hampson.
A smart slice ball sent Perkins through an opening and with space and pace there was no one in a green shirt to stop him claiming a well deserved hat-trick. Kay converted and Featherstone was deservedly back ahead 22-18 in a ding-dong match.
It became 28-18 for Featherstone as tireless forward Sam Millard scattered Bowling tackles to make it a 10-point lead with the conversion of Kay.
Winger Redfearn came close in the corner to close the game, the official raising his flag, and West Bowling made a final effort to save the game with their standout Bartle scoring through the posts again to carry it at 28-24.
But there was to be no final flight at Millpond to catch the bus back to Bradford. The Featherstone Lions held on despite losing Redfearn to a serious injury. Their determination and resilience in defense ensure a deserved victory within 10 minutes of added time.
A beautiful afternoon of rugby, a great advertisement for the amateur game which was excellently refereed by the whole trio of young officials.
The Lions departed at Ince Rose Bridge this Saturday.