All smiles for Jake Perkins as he goes over for his hat-trick for Featherstone Lions with Davi Garahan in support. Picture: Jonathan Buck

PICTURE FOCUS: Featherstone Lions make it three National Conference League wins in a row

Resurgent Featherstone Lions gained a modicum of revenge for the thumping they took at West Bowling in the post pandemic season and made it three wins on the bounce with a spirited display in a 28-24 home Division One success against strong Bradford opposition.

By Tony Harber
Monday, 9th May 2022, 9:00 am

In a free flowing first half the visitors dominated both possession and territory and it was only a matter of time before their workhorse of a loose forward Ollie Bartle crashed over for a converted try.

Much to the Lions’ relief a clever chip and chase just failed to be held by the impressive Bradford number nine, but it was not long before hooker Archie Halmshaw made amends for his spill by burrowing through a phalanx of Lions’ defenders for a classic acting-half back’s try.

The extras were added and Lions were not at the races on the scoreboard despite some game defence from the returning Harry MacAllister and Leo Brown.

Under further pressure and another impending set of six to defend, the game turned on a Liam Kay kick. A clever grubber from a goal-line dropout that just scrabbled across the 10-metre line in front of the posts caught Bowling asleep. Full-back Kay gathered his own kick and made swift progress before being hauled down near the half-way line. A quick play the ball and Lions’ Kieran Redfearn was away down the left hand flank to score in the corner.

Another score quickly followed as the ageless Jake Perkins outraced defenders for the first of his afternoon’s tries. West Bowling’s coach was ramping up the invective with plenty to say to his troops as Kay added the conversion.

With the last play of the half Lions were back in the red zone and Mike Wise’s smart reverse kick caught the defence flat-footed and with a well-aimed ricochet off the post, Perkins scooped the ball up for his second try to put Lions in front with Kay’s extra two points making it 16-12 at the break.

The fire and brimstone handed out at half-time seemed to work for the visitors as just after the interval their scrum-half darted in for a try he converted himself.

West Bowling now had their noses back in front (18-16) but Featherstone were not done. In the same spirit that was evident at Wigan last week, Josh Maden got the forwards running hard, Chris Bingham once again impressive in leading the youngsters Jake Roberts and the strong running duo off the bench Alex Land and Connor Hampson.

A clever cut-out ball sent Perkins through an opening and with space and pace then there was nobody in a green shirt to stop him from claiming a well deserved hat-trick. Kay converted and Featherstone were deservedly back in front 22-18 in a ding-dong game.

That became 28-18 to Featherstone as tireless forward Sam Millard scattered the Bowling tacklers to make it a 10-point lead with Kay’s conversion.

Wingman Redfearn went close in the corner to close out the game, the official raising his flag, and West Bowling had a last ditch effort to save the game with their stand-out player Bartle scoring again by the posts to make it 28-24.

But there was to be no final steal at the Millpond to take on the bus back to Bradford. Featherstone Lions held out despite losing Redfearn to a serious looking injury. Their determination and resilience in defence ensuring a deserved win in the 10 minutes of added time.

A great afternoon of rugby, a fine advert for the amateur game that was excellently officiated by all the trio of young officials.

Lions are away to Ince Rose Bridge this Saturday.

The extras were added and Lions were not at the races on the scoreboard despite some game defence from the returning Harry MacAllister and Leo Brown.

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