On this Day – 06.05

Category: Heritage

On this Day – 06.05

On this day …. 6 May


In 1981, on one of the most memorable nights at the old Craven Park stadium, Rovers beat Widnes 16-11 in a first round Premiership tie, just four days after their Challenge Cup final defeat to the same opposition.

The Wembley game had been a disappointment, with several players failing to do themselves justice, and coach Roger Millward made changes for the Premiership game. David Hall was moved to loose-forward and the young Paul Proctor came in at full-back; Len Casey moved into the second row in place of Chris Burton; and John Millington replaced Steve Crooks in the front row.

The kick-off was delayed to give a bumper crowd time to get into the ground; there were over 13,500 people packed in, and still more locked out. It was a thrilling game that was played in an electric atmosphere and it was all that the Challenge Cup final had not been.

The Robins took the game to Widnes from the start, and had three try-scoring chances in the first ten minutes. Seemingly having weathered the storm, Widnes then took the lead with a penalty, but Hall, having an excellent game, again opened up the Widnes defence with an astute pass, and sent Roy Holdstock romping through a gap to send Phil Lowe in for a try. However, a Wright reply put the Chemics 7-6 up at half-time.

After 52 minutes, Holdstock charged over for Rovers’ second try, Steve Hubbard’s conversion making it 12-7. There were no more tries, but two Paul Harkin drop goals and two Widnes penalties and a drop goal made it 12-12 with five minutes to go. Lowe then went on another tremendous run, and when his pass was knocked down by a defender and picked up by a team-mate in an offside position, Hubbard kicked an angled penalty from 30 yards to win the game.

It had been an outstanding effort by the forwards, and Smith and Hogan had run strongly in the centres. On an emotional night, the standing ovation at the end brought tears to the eyes of some in the crowd. It was Rovers’ first cup win over Widnes in eight attempts since 1963.

The Rovers team that night was – Paul Proctor; Steve Hubbard, Mike Smith, Phil Hogan, Peter Muscroft; Steve Hartley, Paul Harkin; Roy Holdstock, David Watkinson, John Millington, Phil Lowe, Len Casey, David Hall. Subs not used: Chris Burton, Kevin Watson.

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