Harley Axe gets the ball down for a try for Featherstone Lions against Saddleworth Rangers. Picture: Jonathan Buck

PICTURE FOCUS: Featherstone Lions run hot for revenge win in NCL game with Saddleworth Rangers

Featherstone Lions defied sweltering conditions to take revenge for an early season defeat up on Saddleworth Moor - and photographer Jonathan Buck was there to capture the action.

By Tony Harber
Sunday, 10th July 2022, 8:58 pm
Updated Sunday, 10th July 2022, 9:01 pm

Below are Jonathan's pictures from a game in which the Lions beat Saddleworth Rangers 28-20.

With the sun beating down they dominated from the start with completed sets, minimal errors and impeccable discipline as they raced into a 20-0 first-half lead in the National Conference Division One game.

First over the line was Josh Maden, selling two outrageous dummies that allowed the all-action playmaker to walk through a yawning gap in the defence. Lions’ returning legend Ian Jackson converted and they were on their way.

Jackson created the next try after a hard drive by fellow returnee Steve Lawrie, a long cut-out ball that made space for dynamic winger Prash Veerasamy to score in the corner.

The procession continued with Sam Millard getting the third try then Harley Axe fooling the defensive line at acting half-back to score a trademark dummy-and-dive-over try. Jackson’s two conversions put the Millpond side 20-0 in front.

Saddleworth did not help themselves as their touchline coaching was directed more at the man in the middle. When they put aside their grumbling they registered their first score at the clubhouse end before half-time and were 20-6 down at the break.

Both sides tired in the heat in the second period. Saddleworth pulled a couple of tries back to give them scent of an unlikely and undeserved win, but two further scores out wide for skipper Davi Garahan and left winger Lee Close put the game beyond doubt at 28-20.

Lions had three teenage trojans who put in big stints throughout the 80 minutes. Veerasamy took command of the flank and inside him Will Smith had a big game at centre. Equally impressive off the bench was Ben Flaxman, not to be found wanting in any aspect of attack or defence.

Rising temperatures on the pitch resulted in an end of game fracas as a few too many errors and bad tempers boiled over into an all-in brawl. A tactic that cancelled out Axe’s second try and resulted in a flurry of red and yellow cards for both sides.

In the hot conditions, it was an excellent team win where the future youth of Featherstone Lions stood up strongly. They could also take heart from their bounce-back win after last week’s reversal and they face another home game this Saturday against Myton Warriors.

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