Neither side had won a game since the end of the Championship season, but it was John Duffy’s Featherstone who rediscovered their killer instinct, turning an 8-6 interval lead into a positive result.
Fax had started strongly, enjoying the lion’s share of early possession and field position without managing to puncture the visitors’ defence, although Ben Heaton and Mitch Cahalane were both held in touching distance of the line.
When Rovers got their hands on the ball, they made it count; John Davies waltzing through a gap to score by the posts.
Ian Hardman kicked the conversion and the home side continued to frustrate in possession, lacking direction and sharpness against an energetic Featherstone side.
The visitors added to their tally with a Hardman penalty on 22 minutes before a booming 38th-minute 40/20 from Scott Murrell got Fax on the front foot, Ed Barber being held up over the line straight from the tap restart before replacement hooker Ben Kaye scooted over on the next play.
Steve Tyrer converted for an 8-6 deficit. But a 43rd-minute try from Luke Briscoe, from Anthony Thackeray’s kick through, was converted by Hardman as Rovers moved 14-6 up. Fax replied immediately through Mitch Cahalane, Tyrer converting to leave the game poised at 14-12, but the home side’s decision to spurn a kickable penalty with half an hour remaining backfired, Frankie Mariano and then Misi Taulapapa touching down as the visitors moved 26-12 clear.
Fax rallied late on, scoring twice through wingers Rob Worrincy and Ben Heaton, before Heaton was sent off, along with Rovers’ Richard Moore red carded, after a brawl.
Halifax: Sharp; Heaton, Barber, Tyrer, Worrincy; Murrell, Johnston; Morris, Moore, Tangata, Grady, Cahalane, Grix. Subs: Kaye, Fairbank, Sio, Calcott.
Featherstone: Hardman; Taulapapa, Walters, Hardcastle, Briscoe; Wildie, Thackeray; Griffin, Carlile, Moore, Davies, Mariano, Lockwood. Subs: Briggs, Cooper, Brooks, Baldwinson.
Referee: Tom Grant.