Featherstone Rovers are through to the Betfred Challenge Cup third round after eventually overcoming Batley Bulldogs 30-22 in an incredible see-saw contest shown live on The Sportsman on Saturday.
James Webster’s side trailed twice at the Millennium Stadium as Batley gave them a real shock before late tries from substitutes James Harrison and Dean Parata eventually saw Rovers progress.
It was another impressive performance from Craig Lingard’s Bulldogs following on from their surprise 19-6 win over Halifax Panthers in the first round, but Featherstone’s big-name squad managed to just hold them off in the end.
An error from Rovers gave Batley a repeat set and Ben White fed Dale Morton, who threw a dummy to buy himself half a yard and burst through the gap to score. Fev hit back almost immediately as they gave the ball some air on the last tackle and Brad Day strode through from 20 yards, and the home side repeated the trick moments later as Ben Blackmore got on the end of another power play move to give Featherstone their first lead.
Fa’amanu then stepped his way past some crumbly defending to make it 14-6 and followed up with a stunning offload to send in Kris Welham in the corner for a fourth try in less than 10 minutes. Batley needed a lift and got one just before the break as Blackmore put down a last-tackle bomb and Elliot Hall pounced on Morton’s hack through to score.
With a six-point deficit to contend with, Batley came out for the second half all guns blazing. After Alistair Leak had gone close, the Bulldogs kept the pressure up and Tom Gilmore’s clever pass sent in Luke Hooley to bring the scores level.
They were back in front after an incredible bit of play from Jonny Campbell. The winger couldn’t take a high pass cleanly but reacted instinctively to put a boot to the dropping ball and then chase through to touch down after Craig Hall had been wrong-footed by the ingenuity of Campbell’s actions.
But just as Featherstone were looking rattled they bounced back to regain the lead, with Dane Chisholm taking on the line before popping the ball up for James Harrison to score under the sticks. And Dean Parata soon gave them a bit of daylight when taking Harrison’s pass to outstrip the Batley defence and leave Craig Hall with a simple third conversion.
The result means Featherstone will join three other second-round winners in the hat alongside the 12 Betfred Super League teams for round three, with the draw to be made on Monday morning. Rovers are also advanced to the semi-finals of the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup, the final of which will be played at Wembley on Betfred Challenge Cup final day.
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