By Sebastian Sternik
Featherstone Rovers stepped up their pre-season preparations with a rousing 28-20 victory over local rivals Wakefield Trinity.
The Super League outfit took the lead through Jacob Miller but went into the break 12-10 down following tries from Anthony Thackeray and Jack Ormondroyd. A second half double from Chris Ulugia sent Featherstone on their way to victory and despite tries from Liam Finn and Joe Arundel, Rovers sealed an impressive win with an equally impressive performance.
Featherstone head coach, Jon Sharp, was delighted by his team’s display and praised his side saying: “On the whole I thought it was a really good team performance. I think defensively we were challenged by a really good footballing team and I thought we handled them pretty well.”
Wakefield opened the scoring early when Miller got over the line in the opening four minutes. Rovers quickly hit back through Anthony Thackeray and levelled the game when Michael Knowles scored the first of his four conversions.
Chris Chester’s side then picked up the tempo and created two clear-cut opportunities down the near side however, on both occasions Judah Mazive came up short. The winger did eventually get his try but not before Featherstone could take the lead through Ormondroyd.
— Seb Sternik (@seb_strk) 22 January 2017
Chris Ulugia came on in the second half and increased Featherstone’s advantage with two tries inside three minutes. In spite of his brisk impact, the former Batley Bulldogs player could have been sent off after a high tackle on Mason Caton-Brown left the 23-year-old in agony.
With 20 minutes remaining Liam Finn scored and converted his own try to give Wakefield hope however, their momentum was quickly extinguished when Scott Turner regained Featherstone’s advantage.
Wakefield did manage to score again through Joe Arundel but the Super League side were unable to maintain their unbeaten run in pre-season.
Wakefield’s director of rugby, John Kear, was slightly disappointed with the performance but admitted this was a useful test. He said: “Performance wise we looked a little lethargic. We looked like a team who are in the middle of a heavy pre-season but I don’t want to take anything away from Featherstone.”
“We’ve answered one or two questions for round one against Hull so it’s proved a very worthwhile exercise but I do feel that we lacked a little energy and urgency at certain times of the game.”
While Wakefield prepare for the start of the Super League season, Featherstone will be focusing on the new Championship campaign. Featherstone boss, Jon Sharp, praised his new signings and believes there is a lot of competition in his squad.
He said: “Recruitment has been based around creating an attacking team that are good to watch and we encourage them to play football on the back of a solid defence.”
“I think last year was a year that the team picked itself because I only ever had 10 or 12 players training, whereas this year we’ve got a squad where some players are multi skilled and can play a variety of positions.”
Next up for Featherstone is a home friendly against Leeds Rhinos while Wakefield Trinity take on the Sheffield Eagles.