Sheffield Eagles failed to make the most of a promising opening as Featherstone Rovers ran out comfortable 32-12 victors at the Olympic Legacy Park.
The home side made a positive start and they commanded the lions’ share of possession, early on, when Menzie Yere’s purposeful run was halted by former Eagle Misi Taulapapa before the home side forced a goal line dropout although Ian Hardman’s superb kick from under the sticks turned over play, almost immediately.
Moments later, Oscar Thomas planted a grubber kick which was diffused by Taulapapa before Greg Burns executed a superb dummy before racing for the line but the Sheffield hooker was just held up by a host of Rovers defenders.
In the next Sheffield attack, Cory Aston chipped forward and Josh Toole was able to nudge the ball forward into the path of Ben Blackmore, who touched down, but the referee curtailed home celebrations by bringing the play back to halfway.
However, Sheffield continued to press and it was no surprise when they broke the deadlock when Burns injected pace into a home move before putting a popped pass into the path of Blake Broadbent, who powered over from point blank range.
However, Eagles’ joy proved short lived as Featherstone levelled matters almost immediately, with their first foray of note, when Bradley Knowles bulldozed his way to the line.
Despite Sheffield’s early dominance, the game was turned on its head when Rovers added further scores, just shy of half-time, when Danny Maskill’s assist paved the way for Anthony Thackeray to force his way to the whitewash before Harry Newman ghosted to the line unchallenged following good work in the build-up by Thackeray and Newman.
Just minutes into the second stanza, Rovers took a firm grip on the game when Blackmore spilled the high ball and in the next set of six, ex-Eagle John Davies provided a timely assist into the path of Dakota Whylie, who made no mistake to go over with Sheffield short of defensive cover.
The visitors were going for the kill and it was no surprise when they extended their lead when firstly Hardman was the grateful recipient of Matty Wildie’s pass to waltz over before Newman got the better of a footrace with Thomas to touch down in the corner.
In the dying minutes, Newman came within a whisker of a hat-trick when Thomas looked to usher the ball dead before the Rovers centre came from no-where to touch down, but the ball dribbled out of touch, before Newman went from hero to villain by being sent to the bin, seemingly for dissent, in the aftermath of the move.
The visitors rubbed salt into home wounds, near the end, when Hardman planted a penalty kick between the sticks following a Sheffield infringement before the Eagles deservedly notched a late consolation when Broadbent powered over from close range.
Eagles: Thomas, Macani, Yere, Toole, Blackmore, Brown, Aston, Offerdahl, Burns, Pick, O Davies, James, Fozard. Interchange: Burns, Weldon, Broadbent, Garcia.
Scorers: Tries: Broadbent (26), Fozard (78) Goals: Thomas 2/2
Featherstone: Hardman, Whylie, Taulapapa, Newman, Robinson, Thackeray, Wildie, Cooper, Carlile, Brooks, Farrell, J Davies, Lockwood. Interchange: Hardcastle, Maskill, Knowles
Scorers: Tries: Knowles (29), Thackeray (33), Newman (36, 57), Whylie (43), Hardman (50) Goals: Hardman 4/7
Referee: Greg Dolan