FEATHERSTONE ROVERS look to be heading for the Qualifiers’ wooden spoon after an 11-10 defeat at fellow part-timers Batley Bulldogs.
Neither side had won in the opening three rounds and yesterday’s victory makes Batley favourites to finish seventh, with Rovers propping up the table.
The million pound match – and any prospect of promotion – is out of reach, but more than pride was at stake in an attritional showdown at Mount Pleasant.
The team finishing seventh after the seven additional matches will receive £50,000 more in prize money than the side below them, so Wayne Reittie’s winning try, 11 minutes from time, was precious.
Reittie got over in the corner from an outstanding pass by former Featherstone player Sam Smeaton.
That was tough on Rovers who had led for much of the game, despite going behind early on when Reittie touched down from Shaun Squires’s kick.
Luke Briscoe levelled the scores when he pounced on Alex Brown’s error from an Anthony Thackeray kick midway through the half.
And James Duckworth went over to make it 8-4 – after good interplay between Danny Craven and Ian Hardman – a minute before the break.
Crucially as it turned out, Batley got the ball back from a short restart and Dominic Brambani kicked a drop goal on the final play of the half.
Rovers’ Jamie Foster and Patch Walker, for Batley, swapped penalty goals before Reittie’s second try edged the hosts decisively back in front.
With three games remaining, Kear insisted he is not yet taking seventh spot for granted and he stressed: “It was not about the money.
“We built that one up as the battle of the part-time teams in the Qualifiers. We have come out on top and I am absolutely delighted for the players.
“We defended how we know we can.”
Kear hailed Brambani’s quick thinking for the one-pointer and was pleased his side had the presence of mind to cut the gap, to 10-7, through Walker’s penalty goal.
That meant there was no pressure on Walker’s kick following Reittie’s try at the corner.
In contrast, Kear’s opposite number Jon Sharp felt Featherstone were “naive” not to take the two from a penalty when they led by three.
He said: “We committed hari-kari. The cone got sent on and it was sent off by the players.
“I was disappointed with that and absolutely furious that the cone goes back on and gets sent back off again.
“That would have given us a five-point buffer and meant they had to kick the goal. Low and behold, they score a try in the corner and miss the goal kick.
“We would have won the game 12-11. People have got to be held accountable for that. I think it’s a lack of respect to Batley and a lack of understanding about games and pressure situations.
“I am highly delighted with lots of things we did, but at the end of the day I am a frustrated coach because we threw it away.”
Batley Bulldogs: Scott, Reittie, Squires, Ulugia, A Brown, Walker, Brambani, Hirst, Leak, Rowe, Day, Bretherton, Gledhill. Substitutes: Smeaton, Lillycrop, Blake, J Brown.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Duckworth, Briscoe, Taulapapa, Foster, Craven, Thackeray, Griffin, Ellis, Baldwinson, Walters, Spears, Ormondroyd. Substitutes: Day, Tagg, Cooper, Snitch.
Referee: J Cobb (Leigh).