MATCH REPORT: KR secure vital win at Fev
Snapshot: Rovers battle into an 18-6 half-time lead. Two tries in four minutes from Thomas Minns and Heffernan seal the win. The result secures at least a spot in the Million Pound Game.
A gritty and clinical performance saw the Robins move to the brink of automatic promotion with a 30-18 win over Featherstone.
After a week off, the Robins returned to action ready for one last big push to regain their Super League status at the first time of asking. Tim Sheens’ side was boosted by the return of the influential Adam Quinlan, Nick Scruton and Thomas Minns, with Matty Marsh, Rob Mulhern and Kieren Moss dropping out of the side.
There was little to separate the two sides in the early minutes, with both sets of forwards looking to stamp their authority on the contest. The first error came after eight minutes, as an untidy play-the-ball led to Quinlan knocking-on 40 metres from his try line.
That gave Featherstone the first attacking position of the game, and they quickly turned it into points as quick hands down the left saw Misi Taulapapa’s tip-on put Kyran Johnson over at the corner.
Ian Hardman added the conversion, and the home side were soon pressing again as they looked to build on that strong start. Again they set up to attack down the left, but good defensive pressure from Andrew Heffernan dislodged the ball and Ryan Shaw swooped in. Johnson looked to have his opposite number covered, but Shaw showed great strength and power to pull away from him and tear away down the touchline, outpacing Anthony Thackeray to score.
Jamie Ellis slotted over the conversion to level the scores, and the Robins immediately looked to snatch the lead after being awarded their first penalty of the afternoon. Ellis’ kick found touch just short of halfway and the Red and Whites looked to attack direct from the tap as Chris Atkin darted down the short side, using Danny Addy as a foil to release Justin Carney down the touchline. John Davies made a great covering tackle though, and the added weight of Hardman joining the tackle saw them force the winger over the sideline.
The Robins had been starved of field position in the first quarter, but that didn’t stop them from cutting the Featherstone defence open from deep soon after, when Chris Clarkson’s pass gave Heffernan the space to skip past Taulapapa and race into the backfield. The centre beat Hardman before finally being hauled down 15 metres short of the line by the recovering Richard Moore and Davies.
Heffernan played the ball quickly, giving Atkin time to weigh up his options before finding Addy in support, and the back-rower threw a smart dummy before crashing over from close range.
Ellis made no mistake with the conversion, and the Red and Whites added to their advantage just before the break with another score from distance to go into the break with a well-deserved 12-point lead.
Heffernan was again given early ball to attack the Featherstone left edge, and after slicing his way into the clear, the centre took the tackle and produced a great quick play-the-ball. Shaun Lunt launched Maurice Blair, who powered through two tackles and set up the position for Ellis to crash over.
The scrum-half added his third goal of the day, and the Robins headed into half-time in a good position after a tough opening 40 minutes.
Half-Time: Featherstone Rovers 6 Hull Kingston Rovers 18
The Red and Whites had stayed strong through a testing first half, and come through the other side in good fashion, however the game was far from secure and the first points of the second period would be key.
The Robins had the first attacking field position of the second half, but a fumble from Heffernan let the home side off the hook and they immediately took full advantage when a short ball saw Frankie Mariano crash over from close range. Quinlan managed to bring the big forward down short, but referee Chris Kendall ruled the Featherstone man had broken the tackle and awarded the try.
Hardman converted, and the Red and Whites were soon clinging on as Featherstone threw everything they had at the Robins’ line in search of a match-levelling try.
Mariano again broke through before keeping the ball alive, but some desperate defence from the Red and Whites saw them smother first Jack Ormondroyd and then Sam Brooks close to the line, before Ellis managed to knock Thackeray’s long ball down and recover possession.
That was a huge defensive effort from the Robins, and they rolled down the field to immediately extend their lead through a 30-metre Ellis penalty after Matty Wildie was penalised for interference.
The game was still not sealed heading into the final quarter though, and Shaw did a great job of placing himself between a Thackeray kick-through and the chasing Johnson, winning a relieving penalty for the Robins as Featherstone looked to up their intensity.
Having survived that spell of pressure, the Red and Whites again marched down the field through some strong carries down the middle, and Atkin sent Minns powering over with a beautifully-timed short pass.
Ellis’ conversion sailed just wide, but the Robins had the result in their grasp and dug deep to repel another Featherstone attack before securing the win once and for all.
Heffernan produced a great ball-and-all tackle on Hardman before Shaw again kept his cool to escort another dangerous kick out of play. Then, having seen off that challenge, quick play-the-balls from Blair and Quinlan allowed Mose Masoe to rampage forward and give the Robins quick ball. Quinlan attacked the short side on the last tackle, and Heffernan showed his class to skip away from Taulapapa before twisting out of Hardman’s tackle and plunging over.
That score sparked wild celebrations among the huge travelling support as Ellis slotted over his fifth goal of the day.
The final word went to the home side when quick hands down the left gave Johnson his second try, but the Robins closed the game out to take a huge step towards a return to Super League.
Full-Time: Featherstone Rovers 18 Hull Kingston Rovers 30
Hull KR: 1. Adam Quinlan; 5. Ryan Shaw, 22. Andrew Heffernan, 3. Thomas Minns, 36. Justin Carney; 38. Chris Atkin, 7. Jamie Ellis; 8. Nick Scruton, 19. George Lawler, 37. Lee Jewitt; 13. Danny Addy, 10. Chris Clarkson, 33. Ben Kavanagh.
Replacements: 9. Shaun Lunt, 39. Mose Masoe, 12. James Greenwood, 11. Maurice Blair.
Featherstone: 1. Ian Hardman; 18. Kyran Johnson, 4. Misi Taulapapa, 23. Josh Hardcastle, 5. Luke Briscoe; 7. Anthony Thackeray, 19. Matty Wildie; 13. Richard Moore, 9. Keal Carlile, 30. Jack Ormondroyd; 12. John Davies, 29. Connor Farrell, 21. James Lockwood.
Replacements: 28. Sam Brooks, 16. Luke Cooper, 14. Frankie Mariano, 6. Kyle Briggs.
Referee: Gareth Hewer Attendance: 4,583