Dewsbury Rams booked a place in the Yorkshire Cup semi-finals thanks to a 20-14 victory over Featherstone Rovers at Tetley’s Stadium on Saturday.
It provided coach Lee Greenwood with a first win as Rams head coach and his side showed a notable improvement from their hard-fought Boxing Day derby defeat at Batley.
It was two much changed sides who were on show, with Dewsbury fielding 13 new signings, while Rovers are in something of a transition period and had a number of trialists on duty, including former Ram Macauley Hallett.
New Rovers coach Ryan Carr is still to arrive from Australia, so it was Shaw Cross Sharks coach and Featherstone Reserve coach Paul March who took charge of the side.
It was Dewsbury who made the brighter start with new half-back pairing Paul Sykes and Simon Brown dictating the early proceedings.
The Rams led after nine minutes when a Sykes high kick close to the line wasn’t dealt with by the defence. The ball bounced around and was eventually worked out wide for Alex Brown to score his first try since returning to the club. Sykes added the conversion.
Dewsbury threatened again following another Sykes kick through and as Dewsbury continued to put Rovers under pressure they added a second try after 23 minutes.
Sykes collected a pass and was tackled close to the line before Robbie Ward’s short pass sent Lucas Walshaw crashing over for his second try of pre-season as the Rams led 10-0.
Featherstone had failed to threaten in the opening half hour but hit back before half-time from their first real attack.
Young half-back Morgan Punchard kicked behind the Rams defence and Josh Walters won the race to touch down but Jordan Tansey was unable to convert.
Dewsbury switched things around after the break with new Australian signing Jacob Thomas given a breather having impressed at full-back.
Dale Morton moved to full-back, which allowed Tom Halliday to take his place on the wing.
Dewsbury launched an early second half attack on the back of a penalty and Kyle Trout was held close to the line before Matt Nicholson drove between the posts but was held up by a determined Rovers defence.
Featherstone should have hit back after 52 minutes when impressive substitute John Davies kicked for the line but Kieran Hartley knocked on when diving to touch down.
Dewsbury were reduced to 12 men when Ward was sin-binned for dangerous contact and Featherstone took immediate advantage as they moved quickly left and winger James McDaniel dived in at the corner.
Tansey’s conversion clipped the left post and dropped agonisingly over the crossbar as Rovers levelled matters.
Tansey looked to have given his side the lead when he skipped over between the posts but was pulled back for obstruction.
Jordan Andrade made a number of strong drives having come off the bench and he was rewarded with a 63rd minute try to put the Rams back in front.
Dewsbury produced an excellent set to take them close and Andrade met the ball at pace to barge through the Rovers defence and plant the ball down, with Sykes converting.
Halliday gifted Rovers possession when he knocked on at the kick off and Featherstone pressure paid off as they moved left and Hallett dived in at the corner against his former club.
Tansey’s conversion attempt was short and the Rams held a slender two point lead.
The Yorkshire Cup concept ensured the intensity remained until the end and Dewsbury went on to seal victory when Simon Brown kicked to the right corner and Halliday won the race to dive on the loose ball.
Sykes was unable to convert which ensured Featherstone had hopes of taking the game to extra time but a last ditch attack saw a kick roll dead as Dewsbury booked their semi-final spot.
Dewsbury Rams: Thomas; Morton, Leeming, Igbinedion, A Brown; Sykes, S Brown; O Harrison, Ward, Nicholson, Walshaw, Knowles, Trout. Subs: Trout, Ray, Halmshaw, Andrade, Mackay, Garrett, Jack Richardson.
Featherstone Rovers: Tansey; McDaniel, Hallett, Walters, Hartley; Jorge Richardson, Punchard; Cooper, Maskill, Ormondroyd, Day, Waite-Pullan, Lockwood. Subs: Davies, Darley, J Harrison, French, Beckett, Hawkins.
Referee: J McMullen.