VETERAN stand-off Paul Cooke made an eventful debut for Featherstone Rovers in a 42-34 victory at Hunslet Hawks.
Cooke – who joined Rovers after leaving his role as coach at Championship rivals Doncaster – scored two tries and provided the final pass for one more, but ended the match on the bench nursing a calf injury that could keep him out of Wednesday’s trip to Bradford Bulls.
Inspired by the former Hull, Hull KR and Wakefield man, Rovers seemed to be cantering to victory when they led 24-12 at half-time, but Hunslet were the better team for much of the second period after he had gone off.
Gareth Moore, Cooke’s half-back partner, nipped over for the opening try and then intercepted a pass from Jordan Lilley to set up field position for Rovers’ second, scored by Cooke. Hunslet hit back through Kyle Trout, who crashed over from close-range off Lilley’s pass, but Cooke put Moore through and then weaved over himself to open an 18-point gap.
Andy Kain pulled a try back on the stroke of half-time and Jimmy Watson ran in for another.
On 52 minutes Richie Barnett knocked on over the line from Kain’s kick and Featherstone caught Hunslet cold from the resulting tap, going the length of the field in one move for Will Sharp to cross.
Sharp added a second, juggling a kick from Remy Marginet, but Jack Lee and Vinny Finigan crossed for touchdowns to cut the gap to eight points.
Alex Foster calmed Featherstone’s nerves when he barged over from close range with five minutes left and Paul Sykes booted his seventh goal.
Hunslet still refused to give in and Lee added his second touchdown, Jordan Lilley tagging on a fifth conversion to complete the scoring.
Hunslet Hawks: Watson, Barnett, Maun, Mvududu, Finigan, Kain, Lilley, Haley, Lee, Houston, Martin, Backhouse, Mulhern. Substitutes: Flanagan, Lyons, Trout, Gee.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Sharp, Sykes, Minns, Hitchcock, Cooke, Moore, Baldwinson, Ellis, Verlinden, Cording, Maitua, Spears. Substitutes: Marginet, Cooper, Ormondroyd, Foster.
Referee: G Hewer (Whitehaven).