On This Day – 02.07
Twenty years ago today, on 2 July 2000, Rovers brought down the curtain on their Northern Ford Premiership league programme with a 26-14 home win over Barrow Border Raiders.
The top two in the Premiership that season were Dewsbury and Keighley; Rovers finished seventh, four points adrift of sixth-placed Oldham. Rovers had celebrated coming out of administration six weeks earlier, under the chairmanship of former Hull City chairman Don Robinson. It was Rovers fifth win in six matches, an end-of-season revival after an impressive first half of the season had been undone by a spell of just one win in nine matches in April and May.
Chris Charles (2), Jon Wray and Whetu Taewa scored Rovers’ tries against Barrow that day, with Mark Hewitt landing four goals. Rovers led 14-8 at half-time in front of a crowd of 2,379 at Craven Park.
The Rovers team was – Rob Everitt; Jon Wray, Rob Nolan, Whetu Taewa, Gavin Molloy; Leroy Joe, Mark Hewitt; Paul Fletcher, Mike Dixon, Rob Wilson, James Leatham, Dean Andrews, Chris Charles. Bench: Scott Yeaman, Mark Blanchard, Craig Hardy, Jon Wilkin.
A week later, Rovers lost 22-14 to Oldham in the play-off elimination semi-final. This was to be the last Rovers appearance for Jon Wray, Rob Nolan, Leroy Joe, Mark Hewitt, Andy Leatham and Craig Hardy. All but Leatham had been stalwarts of the side that season, none of them missing more than a couple of games. For the ex-Hull FC players, Nolan and Hewitt, it was their only season with the Robins; Nolan, had scored 12 tries, nine in seven consecutive matches in the first half of the season, and Hewitt, who passed 100 goals during the season, contributed 232 points. Half-back Joe, a Cook Islander, had signed for the Robins from Whitehaven at the start of the season but did not make the impression that the club had hoped for, and he returned to Cumbria where he continued to turn out for Whitehaven for several seasons. For former Academy prop-forward Hardy, it was the end of an eight-year career at Rovers, which had been disrupted by injuries in its early stages, but he had developed into a popular and useful performer.
Ever-presents in the side that season were skipper Taewa and club legend Paul Fletcher; whilst Chris Charles and Mike Dixon missed only a handful of games between them. Taewa was the top try scorer with 20 in 31 appearances.
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