Fryston Warriors are denied history making final as Featherstone Lions pull off thrilling fightback

Fryston Warriors and Featherstone Lions served up a nail-biting semi-final in the Castleford Cup that went right down to the wire.

By Tony Harber
Monday, 6th June 2022, 7:00 am

In a dramatic last 10 minutes Lions crossed for three tries that left them tantalisingly short by two points and then a Liam Kay penalty from half-way took the game into extra-time with the final kick of the match.

The momentum was with Featherstone in extra-time and a Kay drop-goal and a Harley Axe dummy-and-dart over the line gave Featherstone a five-point lead as the added time ended.

It was a harsh return for a spirited Fryston side who for 70 minutes deservedly led, and by some margin. For the neutral it was an exciting semi-final showcasing the best of amateur rugby league in front of a large crowd.

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Fryston Warriors' Louie Tomlinson is stopped in his tracks by Featherstone Lions player Jake Roberts in the Castleford Cup semi-final. Picture: Jonathan Buck

Fryston were left to regret blowing a chance of making history, throwing away an 18-point lead to miss out on what would have been an all-Fryston final as their 'A' team had already won through - two teams from the same club have never done this.

This was Fryston's best display for several weeks, but their downfall came through ill discipline, poor defending and tactical options which highlights the youth and inexperience within the camp.

There was no hint of the exciting finale in the early stages as a game Fryston side thwarted Lions’ best attacking efforts with some determined tackling.

Sam Wilkinson-Pycock squeezed in for an unconverted try to give Lions an early four-point lead, but the rest of the first half belonged to the home side.

Lee Land leads a Fryston charge in their Castleford Cup semi-final against Featherstone Lions. Picture: Jonathan Buck

Brad Moules, Harvey Kear, Connor Jordan and Lee Land did the hard work down the middle, which created the openings on the flanks which Brandon Ward duly accepted to score. Jae Priest added the goal, giving Fryston a slender lead going in at half time.

Some excellent support play and off-loading ripped more holes in the Lions’ line and by the mid-point of the second half the local visitors were down, and almost out at 22-4.

From a quick play the ball Connor Jordan showed his awareness as he shot through a gap in the Lions defence to score.

As much as Featherstone tried to get back into the game their forwards were blunted by tenacious defending from the Warriors which gave their backs no chance of showing their skills.

Fryston capitalised on every mistake they made and extended their lead after a Moules break and a quick play the ball gave the overlap for Kieran Purdy to score. Priest added the conversion.

The hosts were in full flow now and Featherstone only got out of their own half with deep kicks. Fryston once again exploited a defensive weakness on the flanks as they switched to the blind side giving George Thrower an easy run to score under the posts. Priest added the conversion to give the Warriors an 18-point lead.

Featherstone had compounded their scoreboard woes with some second half indiscipline that led to two successive yellow cards and a red card for the coach who was unceremoniously dispatched back to the dressing room.

But they managed their come-from-the-dead revival as Kieran Redfearn crossed in the corner and young winger Prash Veerasamy scored two tries in two successive sets of six.

Two out of three touchline conversions from Kay gave the Lions a glimmer of hope, but with less than a minute remaining the late flurry of scoring seemed no more than a consolation.

However, in the final play of normal time Fryston incurred the referee’s whistle and Kay levelled the scores at 22 apiece followed by the full-time whistle.

Fryston played the majority of the extra-time with only 12 men and Featherstone capitalised on this as they worked the ball down the field to set up a drop goal for Kay, which he coolly slotted over.

Fryston's game plan had gone out of the window and they never got near the Featherstone posts to try a drop-goal.

Featherstone rubbed salt into the wounds as Axe buried his way over from dummy-half to score the final points of the game.

Fryston had many heroes on the day, however, with Brad Moules, Harvey Kear, Connor Jordan, Lee Land and Lewis Birdsall all having outstanding games.