Sheffield Eagles wretched start to the Kingstone Press Championship season continued after a 22-47 defeat to high-flying Featherstone Rovers.
It is now just one win from six for the Eagles, who despite scoring the opening try in each half, couldn’t halt a Featherstone side who maintained their impressive start with a fifth victory of the campaign.
Director of rugby Mark Aston gave a debut to Toronto loanee Reece Dean at full-back, whilst Mark Mexico also returned after completing a four match ban.
It was a dream start for Dean who latched onto a grubber kick to ground as the hosts surged into an early lead. Simon Brown added the extras.
The Eagles pressed to make the most of their early advantage but Rovers held out before levelling the scores through a try from Jason Walton. Ex-Eagle Michael Knowles added the two points.
That sparked a sea change in the game as Aston’s side were forced to withstand some heavy pressure. The visitors’ pressure paid off when Ash Handley found Andy Bostock who scored with a one handed reach, and Knowles converted.
The Eagles re-grouped and after working the play to the right, Duane Straugheir broke through a couple of tackles to power his way over the whitewash, and Brown converted for a level game.
The see-saw battle continued as Featherstone hit the front again when Anthony Thackeray’s kick was spilled by Menzie Yere, and Walton was on hand for his second converted try.
Further tries from Handley and Chris Ulugia dented hopes for Aston’s side who had a Garry Lo try ruled out for obstruction.
The Eagles fought straight back into the contest after the interval when a scything break from Dane Chisholm was finished by Elliot Minchella, and Brown converted.
Featherstone increased their lead to 10 points following a Kyle Briggs penalty, and a Thackeray converted try put the visitors clear once more.
Ian Hardman kicked another penalty before Thackeray collected his own kick before crossing the whitewash, but this time Hardman missed the extras.
Eagles reduced the deficit when an early kick from Chisholm found Lo who crossed the line, but Brown missed the conversion.
The game was sealed by Rovers when Thackeray nailed a drop goal attempt, which was then followed by a Hardman penalty and a Luke Briscoe converted try.
Eagles: Dean; Lo, Yere, Johnson, Blackmore; Brown, Chisholm; Wheeldon, Fozard, Mexico; James, Straugheir; Minchella. I’change: Trout, Scott, Cox, Hope.
Scorers: Tries: Dean (2) Straugheir (23), Minchella (43), Lo (66) Goals: Brown 3/4
Featherstone: Hardman; Briscoe, Walton, Ulugia, Handley; Thackeray, Wildie; Bostock, Carlile, Ormondroyd; Davies, Knowles; Lockwood. I’change: Mariano, Moore, Griffin, Briggs.
Scorers: Tries: Walton (12, 26), Bostock (17), Handley (31), Ulugia (38), Thackeray (53, 62), Briscoe (72) Goals: Knowles 3/5, Briggs 2/2, Hardman 2/3 Drop Goals: Thackeray 1/1
Referee: Jonathan Roberts