Sheffield 38 Featherstone 28: Aston endures rollercoaster ride as Rovers stretch Eagles
Featherstone had to win to keep their Middle Eights hopes alive and gambled on an adventurous approach that made for a thrilling game.
“I was on a rollercoaster,” said Eagles coach Mark Aston.
“Featherstone threw everything at us and there was a bit of concern.
“To turn it around and go in with a positive at half-time was great, then we let them back into it. It typified our season.”
Twice Featherstone pulled back to within two points of Sheffield and, thanks to four tries from centre Thomas Minns, the home side could never pull clear.
Rovers set the early tempo with tries from Minns and Paul Syles, with the half-back converting the first.
Sheffield substituted the front row, the surge was slowed and they hit back in the final seven minutes of the half.
Michael Knowles ran on to a chip kick from Kyle Briggs and Duane Straugheir collected a sharp pass from Dominic Brambani.
Quentin Laulu-Togagae’s break sent Rob Worrincy in and Briggs kicked the goals for an 18-10 lead.
Menzie Yere rolled in from dummy half after the restart but Rovers’ reply saw Reni Maitua sweep in and Sykes add the extras.
Worrincy went from villain to hero; his wild pass gifted Minns a try but he then snapped up a loose ball for his second touch down. Minns claimed his hat-trick try after a break by Ben Blackmore and for a second time Rovers were back within two points.
Scott Turner squeezed in at the corner but Minns claimed his fourth to set the nerves racing before Sam Smeaton picked up a loose ball to race in with Briggs kicking his fifth goal.
Sheffield: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Worrincy; Briggs, Brambani; Thorpe, Carlile, Stringer, Knowles, Straugheir, Taulapapa. Substitutes: Battye, Davey, Davies, Tonks.
Featherstone: Sharpe; Blackmore, Hardman, Minns, Hitchcox; Cooke, Sykes; Baldwinson, Ellis, Wood, Cording, Maitua, Bussey. Substitutes: Spears, James. Ormondroyd, Teasdale.
Referee: Mike Woodhead.