Rovers romp home by record margin

Featherstone Rovers 40 Sheffield Eagles 4

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The Independent Online

Featherstone flew past the Sheffield Eagles to win the Championship Grand Final by a record margin yesterday.

The Ireland scrum-half, Liam Finn, was man of the match with six goals, two tries and another created, but it was Rovers' superior speed in all aspects of play that eventually made this a one-horse race.

A club with aspirations for a Super League licence in 2015, they did nothing to harm their long-term prospects at Warrington.

"We've been an outstanding league team without winning anything," said Rovers' coach, Daryl Powell. "We've got that monkey off our backs now."

Featherstone, the most consistent side in the division all season, set out their stall with two tries in the first seven minutes, both the product of the sort of incisive pace to which Sheffield appeared to have no answer.

A burst down the right and an inside pass from Ben Cockayne set up Tim Spears for the first. Andy Kain scorched through the middle to release Finn for the second and it already looked ominous for the Eagles.

Having beaten Widnes, Halifax and Leigh in the play-offs, however, Sheffield are well used to battling against the odds and they bounced back with a dummy-half try from Dane McDonald.

In a potentially pivotal passage of play before half-time, Tim Bergin, was ruled offside racing away with Simon Brown's kick. The Eagles successfully defended that penalty, only to concede again just before the break, Cockayne this time releasing Finn for his second try.

When Jonny Hepworth's burst enabled Ian Hardman to score at the start of the second half, it was all up for the Eagles. That ushered in an untidy period of play, during which Mitchell Stringer was fortunate to stay on after dropping on Tom Saxton with a knee. Kirk Netherton and Joe Hirst also went to the sin-bin for their starring roles in a mass brawl.

Order restored, Cockayne touched down from Finn's perfectly judged kick and Saxton made the inroads for Hepworth to score, before Saxton rounded it off with another example of killing pace. "It was one too far for us against a very good side," said the Eagles' coach, Mark Aston. "But we've learned a lot this season."

Meanwhile, Keighley won the Championship 1 final, beating Workington Town, to earn promotion alongside champions Swinton.

Featherstone: Hardman; Cockayne, Smeaton, Worthington, Saxton; Kain, Finn; Tonks, Kaye, Dickens, Grayshon, Spears, J.Hepworth.

Replacements: Divorty, Dale, Bostock, Netherton.

Sheffield: Laulu-Tongagae; Finigan, Hanson, Taulapapa, Bergin; McDonald, Brown; Stringer, Henderson, Howieson, Szostak, Green, Hurst.

Replacements: R.Hepworth, Scott, Smith, Woodcock.

Referee: M Thomasson.