Rugby League: Rovers' left-wing conspiracy

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Dewsbury 10 Featherstone Rovers 20

IF BRADFORD or London need any inspiration to carry them through the latter stages of the Super League season they should look no further than Featherstone Rovers of the First Division.

After scraping into the top five Featherstone are now one game away from the Grand Final, although they had to come through a desperately tense elimination semi-final at Dewsbury yesterday.

Rovers did not ensure that they would progress until Carl Hall went over in injury time for their fourth try, but they had always been marginally the more dangerous side, their pace and mobility just giving them the edge over a bigger Dewsbury team.

They had a shock, however, when a match delayed by 10 minutes to allow the crowd to get into the ground finally got under way. Danny Baker missed his tackle on Brendan Williams and the Dewsbury full-back, Matthew Bramald, was there in support to claim the game's first try with Barry Eaton adding the goal.

Baker went along way towards making up for that error when he made the break that led to the scores being levelled. He surged down the wing and found the supporting Karl Pratt with an inside pass, Ty Fallins this time contributing the conversion.

Eaton put Dewsbury back in front with a penalty after Jamie Coventry had held down Damien Ball but before half-time Featherstone again found their way outside the home defence. It was Richard Slater's fine pass this time that released Pratt, although he had to get around Bramald to reach the try line. The way in which he achieved that, with a body swerve and a change of pace, again underlined why he is such a sought- after young player.

Another of Featherstone's promising young prospects Neil Lowe, did the groundwork for their third try early in the second-half. It was assuming the proportions of a left-wing conspiracy, because it was again down that flank that he made inroads before slipping his pass to Rovers' substitute, Paddy Handley.

Pratt almost had a hat-trick from Fallins's high kick and Fallins himself twice missed with drop-goal attempts from in front of the sticks as Featherstone tried to kill off stubborn opponents. Eaton brought Dewsbury a little closer with a penalty given for offside after the ball had run loose from a tackle, but they could make no further progress.

Indeed, Featherstone had a couple of chances to clinch the result and had a touchdown from Steve Collins disallowed for a double movement. They would have felt thoroughly aggrieved if they had let it slip at that late stage, but Hall's try ended that possibility and kept a season that seemed to be over a couple of months ago still very much alive.

Dewsbury: Bramald; Flynn, B Williams, Elland, Bailey; Agar, Eaton; Long, O'Donnell, Boothroyd, Spink, Ball, Delaney. Substitutes used: Wood, S Williams, Patterson, Jowitt.

Featherstone: Collins; Hall, Irwin, Daker, Pratt; Coventry, Sallins; Jackson, Chapman, Dickins, Price, Lowe, Slater. Substitutes used: Handley, Amone, Clarkson, Dooler.

Referee: I McGregor (Huddersfield).