DEWSBURY RAMS landed a late drop goal to secure a dramatic 11-10 win over Featherstone Rovers in their opening game of the 2014 Kingstone Press Championship season, writes Jared Priestley.
In a backs-to-the-walls performance, the Rams produced a stunning second half turnaround which culminated in Anthony Thackeray scraping over a one pointer for the 11-10 victory.
In a one sided first half Featherstone dominated possession and pinned the hosts in their own half for long periods.
Dewsbury could have been trailing, but for solid defence, as they held Jack Bussey just short after the stand-off darted through a gap.
The Tetley’s Stadium outfit continued to invite waves of attack and were almost behind when Dale Morton fumbled a Gareth Moore kick, but Karl Pryce saved his winger’s blushes by grounding the ball in-goal.
In an uneventful first half for the hosts the biggest talking point was a high tackle from Matthew Haggerty, who was put on report for the incident.
The Rams could have gone in to sheds with a narrow lead, but stand-off Tom Hemingway’s penalty kick drifted wide and the sides went in at 0-0, a rarity in the modern game.
However the visitors eventually made their their constant pressure tell when they posted a score early in the second half, a clever flick pass from Bussey allowing James Mendeika to scramble over on 50 minutes.
Ex-Batley half back Gareth Moore’s conversion attempt went wide.
The try seemed to bring the hosts to life and they were soon back in the game when hooker Wayne Godwin sneaked over from dummy half.
Keiran Hyde took over the goal kicking duties from Hemingway and added the extras from out wide for a 6-4 lead.
The game remained a stalemate until into the last 10 minutes when Featherstone loose forward Matt James broke the Dewsbury line and found the supporting Bussey who raced in under the posts.
Moore converted from straight in front, for a 71st minute 10-6 lead.
But if home fans were despondent, fearing the inevitable from the most consistent side in the Championship over recent seasons, they were pleasantly surprised.
The Rams once again bounced back and Glenn Morrison’s men were soon level when Thackeray darted over from close range on 74 minutes.
It seemed they were certain to take an unexpected lead as Hyde faced a relatively easy kick from just to the side of the sticks.
But in a dramatic twist he hit the conversion attempt wide to leave the two sides level at 10-10.
Rovers got the first chance to break the deadlock but Moore completely mishit his drop goal attempt.
Given a lifeline the Rams were in determined mood and made a brilliant break when Thackeray and Sheriff combined for the full back to race through.
He was halted short but had put Dewsbury in good field position, allowing Thackeray to slot over the drop goal to give them an 11-10 lead with just two minutes remaining.
The home side had to survive a late Featherstone attack but defended admirably to secure a huge – and admittedly unexpected – opening day win.
Rams coach Glenn Morrison said: “It was an outstanding effort defensively. If you defend like that each game you are going to win more than you lose.
“It was a nail biter but I thought we should have won it.
“It is hard to put it in to words, I’m just really proud of the boys.
“It is a great performance and this is the level we need to be at week in, week out.”