Missed chances proved costly as Featherstone surrendered their 100 per cent record this season with a poor performance in dreadful conditions.
Lewis Palfrey’s penalty goal three minutes from time gave newly-promoted Rochdale a surprise win as they condemned Rovers to their first home league defeat since last April.
Featherstone coach Jon Sharp said: “There were probably four or five scoring chances that we blew and that just summed it up for us.
“We just weren’t ruthless enough. There were too many blokes having off days all at once.”
Palfrey put Hornets in front with a 11th-minute penalty goal before Michael Knowles squared matters with a 32nd-minute goal.
They were awarded that penalty after Anthony Thackeray sent Ian Hardman bursting through and Rochdale’s Daniel Yates was sin-binned for holding him down.
While they were down to 12 men, Hornets surprisingly regained the lead when Palfrey sent in Danny Bridge. Palfrey converted but Rovers made it 8-8 when Thackeray created the opening for centre Chris Ulugia to cross and on-loan Corey Aston added the extras.
Anthony Thackeray edged Rovers 9-8 ahead with a 68th-minute drop goal, but Rochdale came out on top when Josh Crowley’s surging run break led to Featherstone being caught offside and Palfrey kicked the resultant 30-yard angled penalty.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Briscoe, Hardcastle, Ulugia, Turner; Thackeray, Wildie; Mariano, Carlile, Moore, Knowles, Walton, Davies. Substitutes: Aston, Lockwood, Bostock, Griffin.
Rochdale Hornets: Greenwood; Holmes, Case, Eccleston, Massam; Palfrey, Yates; Taira, Moores, Bennion, Wild, Crowley, Middlehurst. Substitutes: Lobwein, Francis, Hadden, Bridge.
Referee: G Hewer (Whitehaven).