championship: Sheffield avenged last season’s Grand Final defeat by ending Featherstone’s 22-match unbeaten league run with an astonishing 60-40 away win.
Trailing 44-16 early in the second half, Rovers reduced the deficit to 44-40 before Sheffield grabbed three late tries to seal victory in an incredible game that saw them outscore the champions 11 tries to seven.
Misi Taulapapa bagged three tries and Quentin Laulu-Togagae collected two as the Eagles bounced back impressively from a 50-18 trouncing against Halifax.
Sheffield coach Mark Aston said: “I was elated to score 60 points against a top team like Featherstone and I was relieved our players held their nerve at the end because that was the most important thing.”
Sheffield were quickly 16-0 up when Taulapapa, twice, and Scott Turner also scored. Rovers replied with tries from Greg Worthington, Matty Dale and Tangi Ropati but the Eagles were 26-16 ahead at half-time after Nev Morrison and Menzie Yere went over and Simon Brown kicked his third goal.
The Eagles scored three tries in the opening nine minutes of the second half through Alex Szostak, Taulapapa and Quentin Laulu-Togagae to lead by 28 points.
Tommy Saxton’s 54th-minute try sparked a fightback by Rovers.
Andy Kain scored two quick tries and Michael Haley also powered over, with Liam Finn kicking his sixth goal to put Featherstone just four points adrift, but Sheffield struck a crucial blow when Dominic Brambani sent in Joe Hirst after 65 minutes.
The Eagles sealed victory with further touchdowns from Laulu-Togagae and McDonald and Brambani’s fifth goal.
Featherstone were punished for a mistake-ridden display ahead of Saturday’s Challenge Cup tie against neighbours Castleford Tigers as they slumped to their first home league defeat since they lost 32-30 to Sheffield in August 2010.
Rovers coach Daryl Powell said: “I don’t think I’ve seen a team give away as many intercepts and easy tries as we did. It was a hugely disappointing performance.”
Featherstone: Hardman; Saxton, Smeaton, Worthington, Ropati; Briggs, Finn; Maloney, Kain, Haley, Grayshon, Spears, Dale. Substitutes: Hepworth, Lockwood, Dickens, England.
Sheffield: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Taulapapa, Morrison; Brown, Brambani; Howieson, Henderson, Higgins, Szostak, Green, Hirst. Substitutes: McDonald, Hepworth, Knowles, Rowe.
Referee: T Roby (RFL).