Thrilling semi final win for Rovers breaks Thatto Heath hearts
It was a game that had it all – skills, show stopping action, drama, dissent and a golden point drop goal.
That one team had to win felt somehow unfair in this evenly-matched tussle between the women of Thatto Heath and Featherstone Rovers. But cometh the hour, cometh the woman…and in this case it was Featherstone’s captain, Andrea Dobson, who stood up and took aim for the drop goal that won her team a place in next Saturday’s first Super League Grand Final.
She’d already spent ten minutes in the sin bin for a bit of back chat to the ref, such was the passion in this match-up, the home side managing to keep a lid on their emotions more effectively. Perhaps a little more shocking though was the dismissal of the Featherstone coach Simon Peach, sent back to the changing rooms for a few choice words to the referee.
That seemed to focus the Rovers side though, aware that their own indiscipline could be the difference between a place in the final against Bradford or a premature finish to their campaign.
Rovers had a 16-6 lead at half time but it was Thatto Heath who came out more focussed and determined in the second forty, doing the basics well to get them into the position to bring the scores back to 16 all. It looked like they’d done just enough to win when Becca Rotherham went over in the left corner to give them a 20-16 lead with about 15 minutes still left to go.
As the 80 minute hooter neared though, they were under constant pressure with multiple defensive sets on their own line, desperately trying to keep the visitors out. But it was Rovers’ Kayleigh Bulman who drew the scores level at the death, her conversion attempt just sailing wide as the final hooter sounded.
That meant golden point extra time. Both sides had about two sets of six each in the sudden death stanza, but Featherstone played theirs better, gaining good territory and getting captain Dobson in great striking distance on the sixth play-the-ball of their third set. She struck it strongly and sweetly in front of the sticks, the women of Thatto Heath sinking to their knees as the ball glided smack bang between the uprights.
The 20-21 victory gave Featherstone that Grand Final berth, Thatto, for a couple of years the queens of the big finales, this time one game short of the silverware.