On This Day – 25.06

Category: Heritage

On This Day – 25.06

Five years ago today, 25 June 2015, inspired by the words of club legend Mike Smith in the dressing room before the game, Rovers withstood a spirited fightback from Catalans Dragons to win a tremendous Challenge Cup quarter-final in front of 6,073 lucky fans at Craven Park. After an unbelievable first half of brilliant football, arguably the best 40 minutes the Robins had produced since the glory days of the 1980s, Rovers led 26-4 at half-time.

It took only until the eighth minute for Rovers to take the lead, when Ken Sio took Kieran Dixon’s pass to outpace the defence for his 16th try of the season. Props Adam Walker and Tony Puletua were causing problems for the visitors’ defence, and on 16 minutes the pair combined to get Dixon over, albeit with the aid of a slightly fortuitous ricochet. Two minutes later, Josh Mantellato outjumped Escare to take Blair’s high kick and sent Albert Kelly over for the third try. On 28 minutes, a cut-out pass from Shaun Lunt got Mantellato away and the winger’s inside pass gave Graeme Horne a clar run to score Rovers’ fourth. With Mantellato converting all four, Rovers led 24-0. Six minutes before the break, the visitors got on the board when Inu touched down Whitehead’s grubber kick in the corner, but Mantellato had the final word on the stroke of half-time, when he landed a penalty to make it 26-4.

The French side improved in the second half and, helped by a succession of penalties, they scored two tries in six minutes in the third quarter. First, Taia forced his way over from a tap penalty and the Inu scored his second after superb work by Gigot. Dureau landed one conversion to cut the deficit to 26-14, and the home supporters started to get twitchy. But when Liam Salter created a second try for Sio in the 63rd minute, and Mantellato’s conversion made it 32-14, the game appeared to be safe for the Robins. But the French side had rediscovered their spirit, and tries by Henderson and Whitehead, converted by Dureau, contrived to produce some late nerves for the home fans. Rovers, however, saw the game out to reach their first semi-final for nine years.

The Rovers team that night was – Kieran Dixon; Ken Sio, Liam Salter, Kris Welham, Josh Mantellato; Maurice Blair, Albert Kelly; Tony Puletua, John Boudebza, Adam Walker, Graeme Horne, Kevin Larroyer, Tyrone McCarthy.  Bench: James Donaldson, Dane Tilse, Shaun Lunt, James Greenwood.

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