Featherstone 21 Sheffield 12: Champions Sheffield are denied as Rovers hang on for victory

DOWN AND OUT: Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston watched his side lose out to Featherstone Rovers.
DOWN AND OUT: Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston watched his side lose out to Featherstone Rovers.
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FEATHERSTONE reached the Championship Grand Final for the fourth time in five seasons by ending defending champions Sheffield’s eight-match winning run.

Rovers face table-toppers Leigh in next Sunday’s final at Headingley after avenging last month’s 40-28 home defeat against the Eagles and ruining their hopes of a fourth consecutive Grand Final.

Scrum-half Gareth Moore was Featherstone’s match-winner. He scored a try and kicked five goals including a drop goal.

Trailing 21-0 at half-time, Sheffield cut the gap to nine points with two converted tries early in the second-half but Rovers defended magnificently.

Featherstone took an eighth-minute lead when Moore’s long pass put in Ben Blackmore and Moore added a touchline goal, before kicking a 40-yard penalty on 14 minutes.

After Sheffield’s Matt Garside was held up over the line, Rovers quickly swept upfield to score again via James Lockwood and Moore.

Menzie Yere rescued Sheffield with a try-saving tackle when Andy Kain intercepted Kyle Briggs’s pass but Rovers finished the half well on top and Moore edged them further ahead with a penalty goal and a drop goal.

Sheffield made a storming start to the second-half. Briggs’s clever grubber kick created the first for Peter Green, before Quentin Laula-Togagae snapped up the ball to score. Dominic Brambani’s second conversion reduced the deficit to 21-12.

The momentum had now swung Sheffield’s way and they looked far more threatening.

Jack Blagbrough and Mitch Stringer were both held up over the line as Featherstone did well to survive further sustained pressure. Cory Aston and Garside were both stopped just short.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Sharp, Pick, Blackmore, Crookes; Kain, Moore; Crossley, Ellis, James, Cording, Spears, Lockwood. Substitutes: Teasdale, Bussey, Annakin, Hirst

Sheffield Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Garside, Taulapapa; Briggs, Brambani; Battye, Henderson, Stringer, Knowles, Straughier Green, Walker. Substitutes: Aston, Green, Blagbrough, Lillycrop.

Referee: J Cobb (Leigh).