FEATHERSTONE ROVERS’ hopes of finishing in the top two in the Championship suffered a blow with a surprise defeat yesterday at lowly Rochdale.
The Lancashire outfit turned the formbook inside out by snatching victory in a nail-biting finish with their roses rivals.
Trailing 18-0 after just 15 minutes, Featherstone recovered to lead 34-32 but Rochdale snatched victory with a late touchdown from full-back Wayne Thompson.
Rovers were level at 18-18 at half-time thanks to three tries in an eight-minute spell from Jason Crookes, Andy Kain and Steve Crossley.
All three tries were converted by half-back Gareth Moore.
Despite Will Sharp’s 51st-minute score, Rochdale took a 32-22 lead in the second-half.
But Rovers then looked set for victory when they hit back with tries from Etu Uaisele and Ian Hardman, plus Moore’s fifth goal.
But yet again the buzzing Hornets had other ideas and they stung Rovers once more to deny the visitors at the tail-end of the encounter.
Defeat leaves Featherstone 12 points adrift of leaders Leigh and just one point ahead of third-placed Halifax and two points ahead of Doncaster.
Rochdale Hornets: English, Dawson, Llewellyn, Littler, Casey, Sheridan, Millard, Walker, Crook, Thompson, Case, Trumper, Greenwood. Substitutes: Dandy, McClurg, Beaumont, Cookson.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Crookes, Uaisele, Mendeika, Blackmore, Kain, Moore, Crossley, Ellis, Trout, Lockwood, Kent, Bussey. Substitutes: Pick, James, Flanagan, Sharp.
Referee: Jamie Bloem.
Whitehaven came from behind to coast past Barrow and move into the final play-off place.
Whitehaven trailed by two points at the interval, but hit back in the second half, with Shaun Ainscough, Lee Mitchell and Jessie Joe Parker all claiming tries.