|Featherstone Rovers (22) 41|
|Tries: Doyle 2, Chisholm, Kopczak, Brown, Harrison, Hall Goals: Hall 5 Pen: Hall Drop-goal: Chisholm|
|York City Knights (10) 34|
|Tries: Jones-Bishop, Stock, Brining, Bass, Lewis, Whiteley Goals: Dixon 5|
Featherstone Rovers won a cracking game of 13 tries at Wembley as they hung on to beat fellow Championship side York City Knights 41-34 and become the second team to lift the 1895 Cup.
In the Challenge Cup Final curtain raiser, a Covid-hit game briefly threatened by postponement, the two Yorkshire sides served up a classic.
Young winger Jacob Doyle scored two of Fev’s tries in only his second game.
But York put up a great fight, shaded by seven tries to six.
For Featherstone, it was their fourth Wembley win, having won the Challenge Cup three times, in 1967, 1973 and 1983 – but this was their first triumph at the new Wembley.
York, by contrast, had not been to Wembley in 90 years, also losing to Yorkshire opposition when they were beaten by Halifax in the Challenge Cup.
The inaugural 1895 Cup, contested by rugby league teams from the second-tier Championship and third-tier League 1, was won by Sheffield Eagles in 2019.
Last season’s competition was called off when the rugby league season was abandoned, except in Super League, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
And Featherstone had to be led out by assistant coach Paul March, who was given charge of the team when head coach James Webster contracted Covid-19.
Wembley’s 13-try curtain-raiser classic
Fev went ahead in the eighth minute when Aussie Dane Chisholm went in on the last tackle, allowing former Hull FC and Hull KR back Craig Hall the chance to convert the first of his six successful kicks.
But Leeds old boy Ben Jones-Bishop, now three times a Wembley loser, jumped highest to meet a Mikey Lewis cross kick and match his try here for the Rhinos in the 2011 Challenge Cup Final defeat by Wigan.
Kieran Dixon missed his kick from out wide and, although Hall improved Craig Kopczak’s try to make it 12-4 on 22 minutes, York quickly stayed in touch with Marcus Stock’s converted try.
Fev then went in front 22-10 at half time thanks to two tries in three minutes, Doyle going in for his first at the left corner before a superb move down the left involving the bustling John Davies set up Fa’amanu Brown.
Yet, within seven minutes of the restart, York cashed in on two lucky breaks to get level.
Kriss Brining’s try should not have been allowed as the TV replay (not being used by the officiating team) clearly showed that he had lost control in trying to ground the ball.
Then full-back Hall dropped the ball, allowing Jason Bass to run away with the loose ball to score, Dixon’s third successful kick tying it up.
Hall quickly curbed the York revival, kicking a two-pointer when York were pinged for offside before a second try for Doyle, set up by Hall, and then further tries for James Harrison and Hall.
But York were to score twice more, through Lewis and a superb interception try from Perry Whiteley, although Chisholm’s late drop-goal had already kept the winners more than one converted score clear.
False alarm for Fev skipper
Featherstone Rovers captain James Lockwood lifted the trophy at Wembley – but only after a dash to Yorkshire and back to be with his heavily pregnant wife.
Lockwood, 35, had only just arrived in London with the Rovers squad on Friday afternoon when he was told his wife had gone into labour.
He immediately caught a Tube to King’s Cross station and a train back to Wakefield to be at her side.
But it turned out to be a false alarm – and his private 18-hour game of Tube, trains and automobiles led him safely back to Wembley well in time to lead his team to victory over York.
“It was a false alarm, which didn’t please him,” said Featherstone assistant coach March. “But he certainly led from the front with a massive performance.
“James caught the train at half-past five this morning and was back at the hotel at 8.15 and still managed to put in a big shift.”
Featherstone Rovers: Hall; Doyle, Davies, Hardcastle, Gale; Chisholm, Brown; McConnell, Harrison, Ferres, Lockwood, Sweeting, Kopczak.
Interchange: Spence, Cooper, Field, Summers.
York City Knights: K Dixon; Jones-Bishop, Dow-Nikau, Bass, Whiteley; Lewis, Washbrook; R Dixon, Jubb, Teanby, Clarkson, Kirmond, Spears.
Interchange: Brining, Stock, Cuthbertson, Scott.
Referee: Robert Hicks (RFL).