UNDERBANK RANGERS won the battle of the unbeaten sides and went to the top of the Co-Operative Conference National table after a 24-22 victory over Featherstone Lions at the Millpond.
Neil Barrett’s second-half goals for Rangers were crucial and it was his 62nd-minute conversion to Shaun Smith’s touchdown that ultimately proved to be the difference.
Front rowers Andy Boothroyd, Craig Williams and Sam Dalby were in top form for Underbank, with Barrett and Adam Carroll keeping the backs ticking, while Kevin Eadie, Rich Frankland, 18-year-old Josh Hale and debutants Josh and Jake Blackmore stood out for the Lions.
A Williams break in the fourth minute paved the way for Will Midgley to go over for the opening score but Rangers’ lead did not last long, Jackson swooping on to a loose ball and motoring clear to send Eadie over, Jackson adding the goal.
The visitors nudged back in front when quick hands saw Sam Hendrick cross and Rangers went further in front when a Barrett chip caused the home defence to fumble and winger Richard Aka scored to make it 12-6.
Two minutes from the break, veteran Lee Trigg powered his way over for Featherstone and Jackson’s goal took the teams into half-time level.
Rangers exerted pressure at the start of the second period and on 55 minutes loose forward Lee St Hilaire barged over with Barrett landing his first goal. Just after the hour Smith went in for a disputed score and Barrett goaled to make it 24-12.
The closing quarter was end-to-end with Rangers winger Courtney Allette covering a Glassell chip, and Josh Blackmore, Lee Close and Hale were all held up short, while Bank’s Williams lost the ball over the Lions line.
Then Craig Machen made a fine break and Frankland weaved his way over with Jackson’s conversion cutting the margin to six points.
With little time remaining young hooker Anthony Yates found a gap to go in at the corner, but Jackson could not kick the goal that would have shared the spoils.
LIONS: Jackson; Gale, Josh Blackmore, Glassell, Hale; Frankland, Eadie; Curtis, Yates, Trigg, Jake Blackmore, Candlin, Wilson. Interchange (all used): Milton, Hepworth, Close, Machen.
RANGERS: Hendrick; Allette, Briggs, Midgley, Aka; Barrett, Carroll; Williams, Boothroyd, Dalby, Housley, Joyce, St Hilaire. Interchange (all used): Mitchell, Smith, Geoghegan, Cummins.
Referee: Sam Ansell