Match Report – Toronto Wolfpack v Featherstone Rovers
Toronto Wolfpack have retained their lead at the top of the 2019 Betfred Championship table with a nail-biting win over Featherstone Rovers at LD Nutrition Stadium. The Easter Monday triumph follows hot on the heels of a Good Friday win at Barrow and whets the appetite for a huge Home Opener in Toronto on Sunday against Swinton Lions. The Wolfpack record now stands at 10 wins and one loss for a points total of 20, two games clear of Toulouse at the head of the table.
Early chances for both Featherstone and Toronto had the scoreboard attendant on the edge of their seat but it wasn’t until the 14th minute that they were called into action. Gareth O’Brien capped off a strong push up the field from the Wolfpack with consecutive dummy passes that cleared a path to the try-line for the first points of the game.
Immediately following the resumption of play, Matty Russell strolled over in the left-hand corner as a result of quick hands spreading the ball wide for his 13th try of the season. Blake Wallace missed his second conversion attempt of the day, holding the lead at eight.
Former Wolfpack player Jack Bussey sparked Rovers into action at the 25 minute mark with a classy sidestep that opened up space and allowed him to afford the same luxury to Makahesi Makatoa, who finished the play under the posts. Dane Chisholm added two more and pulled the Wolfpack lead back to two points.
Matty Russell continued his prolific 2019 on the half-hour mark, tallying his second try of the contest. It required a deft turn back inside from the wing that wrong-footed the Rovers defence and a desperate lunge for the line extended the Wolfpack lead by four. Another difficult chance for Wallace to convert sailed wide, holding the scoreline at 6-12.
A yellow card to O’Brien for a desperate tackle on a rampaging Dane Chisholm saw him take a seat for ten minutes and forced the Wolfpack into determined defence for the final ten minutes of the opening half. After holding tight in defence, Toronto managed to claw their way up field and Josh McCrone added a little insurance with a drop-goal that sailed through the uprights just as the siren signalled half-time.
The second half got underway with one of the tries of the season from Featherstone. Dane Chisholm got it started with a smooth line-break that put him into wide-open space. Seeing Connor Carey making a run down the right wing, he put a perfect kick in that allowed the winger to collect the ball across the try-line and place it on the grass millimetres inside the field of play. Chisholm would then convert the try and make the margin a single point.
The energy-sapping contest had both sides pushing for a try that would give them the upper-hand but it wasn’t until Rovers drew a penalty in the 66th minute that they managed to claim a one-point lead of their own. It led to a frantic finish with the ball travelling end to end and chances being created for both sides.
The pressure valve was blown open in the 75th minute by a brilliant offload from Wolfpack captain Josh McCrone to Andrew Dixon that gave him a look at the try-line. Dixon charged 30 metres with defenders in close pursuit and dove over the line to restore the Wolfpack lead. Wallace collected his first points of the afternoon to extend the lead to a nerve-wracking five points.
Matty Russell collected another hat-trick in the dying minutes to put the result beyond doubt as the siren sounded on a classic contest that could have gone either way.
The Wolfpack prepare now to cross the Atlantic and settle into their Canadian residence, with their Home Opener against Swinton Lions just six days away. A large crowd is expected to be in attendance for Lamport Stadium’s first taste of the Championship in 2019 so to ensure you don’t miss out, click here now to secure your tickets.
14’ Try Wolfpack: O’Brien 0-4
17’ Try Wolfpack: Russell 0-8
26’ Try Rovers: Makatoa. Conversion: Chisholm, 6-8
30’ Try Wolfpack: Russell 6-12
40’ Drop goal Wolfpack: McCrone 6-13
Half Time: 6 – 13
43’ Try Rovers: Carey. Conversion: Chisholm 12-13
66’ Penalty Rovers: Chisholm 14-13
75’ Try Wolfpack: Dixon. Conversion: Wallace 14-19
80’ Try Wolfpack: Russell 14-23
Full Time: 14 – 23
Toronto Wolfpack Team
1 Gaz O’Brien
2 Matty Russell
4 Ricky Leutele
7 Josh McCrone
8 Adam Sidlow
9 Bob Beswick
10 Ashton Sims
11 Andrew Dixon
12 Bodene Thompson
13 Jon Wilkin
14 Andy Ackers
15 Darcy Lussick
16 Tom Olbison
17 Blake Wallace
21 Anthony Mullally
27 Hakim Miloudi