Featherstone prosper from Ainscough’s unwitting error

CHAMPIONSHIP Shield leaders Featherstone recovered from 26-6 down with 10 minutes left to snatch their fourth straight victory in an incredible finish.

Batley looked as though they had survived Rovers’ late fightback until two-try centre Shaun Ainscough’s amazing blunder 
after the final hooter.

Instead of running the ball out of play near halfway, Ainscough kicked it towards the touchline and Rovers winger Will Sharp scooped it up to scramble over for a try to make it 26-26. Paul Sykes added a touchline goal to clinch a home play-off semi-final for Rovers and plunge Batley back into relegation trouble.

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The Bulldogs are now just two points ahead of second-bottom Hunslet who won at Whitehaven.

Batley were by far the better team for 70 minutes, with scrum-half Scott Leatherbarrow impressing with his clever kicking game. James Brown and Sean Hesketh were both held up over the line as Rovers survived early pressure.

Featherstone overcame the loss of centre Alex Foster with an ankle injury to take a 33rd-minute lead against the run of play.

After Steve Snitch was halted just short, Andy Ellis went over from acting half and Sykes added the first of his four goals. Four minutes later, Ainscough crossed from Elliot Cosgrove’s pass to make it 6-6 at the break. The Bulldogs, though, took a firm grip with two tries in three minutes early in the second-half.

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Brad Day and Leatherbarrow were both halted just short before Anthony Nicholson scored from acting half and Cain Southernwood’s crossfield kick then set up a touchdown for Sam Scott.

Batley should have scored again when Ainscough made a superb break, but Wayne Reittie was unable to take Cosgrove’s pass with the try line wide open.

Leatherbarrow kicked a 56th-minute penalty to nose Batley further ahead and they looked set for a comfortable win when Leatherbarrow put in Ainscough for his second try 13 minutes from time to give them a 20-point lead.

Young hooker Sam Day sparked Featherstone’s fightback by forcing his way over from close range.

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Kyran Johnson then capitalised on Paul Cooke’s clever kick to race in for a try before the hosts cut the gap to four points when Sykes put in a kick and Ian Hardman hacked the ball on for Sykes to score.

Batley’s man of the match Ainscough then gifted them an undeserved victory after the hooter.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Johnson, Sykes, Foster, Sharp; Cooke, Milner; Baldwinson, Ellis, Bussey, Spears, Snitch, Ormondroyd. Substitutes: Day, Knowles-Tagg, Cooper, Coventry.

Batley Bulldogs: Craven; Reittie, Squires, Cosgrove, Ainscough; Southernwood, Leatherbarrow; Hirst, Blake, Hesketh, Scott, Day, J Brown. Substitutes: Nicholson, Rowe, Lillycrop, A Brown

Referee: Gareth Hewer (RFL).