Featherstone Rovers 38
Dewsbury Rams 6
THE Rams produced a far better performance than the score suggests and only a late collapse sent them to a fairly heavy defeat in their second Northern Rail Cup game.
The Rams are virtually out of the knock-out stages but again used the game to have a look at more of their squad and six players came on for their first competitive appearance of the season.
Positional changes also meant that Dewsbury had 11 changes from the previous game.
They certainly put up a determined performance and led 6-0 for much of the first half.
After Featherstone, who had four ex-Rams in their squad, showed their quality to forge ahead it was still only 16-6 going into the closing 13 minutes when ruthless Rovers ran in four late tries to gain a flattering victory.
Derrell Olpherts was one of the newcomers at full-back and gave a very encouraging performance with his readiness to link on attack and some sound defending. Ed Barber and Scott Spaven worked hard at half-back and there was strong work up front from Ben Jones, Steve Crossley and newcomer John Davies, while Craig Cook had another busy and effective game at hooker.
The Rams had clearly done their homework and were off to a great start when they moved up quickly in defence and the alert Barber charged down Liam Finn’s kick. The Rams snatched possession and soon after moved the ball well to give Ryan Esders room and he went in for the try after only three minutes. Spaven added the goal.
For some time Dewsbury played up to their lead. They tried to move the ball but their best work was on defence as they harried the home side into a series of mistakes and there were signs of frustration.
The Rams held their lead until the 32nd minute when Rovers wing Gareth Raynor made a good break and created space for Sam Smeaton to go over fofr the try, Liam Finn failed at goal.
Had Dewsbury been able to hold on to their narrow lead until the interval, things could have been very interesting but three minutes before the break, home stand-off Andy Kain showed quick footwork to dart over and Finn’s goal gave Rovers a 10-6 half-time lead.
Dewsbury stayed in contention after the break and their determined defence kept Rovers at bay. There would be some disappointment that just on the hour, home substitute Kyle Briggs took the pass from play-the-ball and twisted his way over for Finn to add the goal.
That proved the crucial score and Rovers came on strongly in the closing stages as Dewsbury felt the effects of a tough tackling stint.
Home full-back Ian Hardman linked and created space for Tangi Ropati to race over near the corner. Finn failed at goal but the last 10 minutes was all Rovers as the Rams faded.
The home side added tries at the posts by Briggs, Ben Kaye and Hardman with Finn adding three more goals. There was the feeling that the Rams will play worse and win.