Featherstone Rovers 36, Cougars 12
A blistering 14-minute spell midway through the first half saw Cougars blown away by high-flying Featherstone at the Big Fellas Stadium.
Rovers, who have finished top of the Championship in each of the past four seasons, scored four tries during that period and were simply too strong for Paul March’s side.
They led in the 16th minute through winger Etu Uaisele and Greg Worthington, Ian Hardman and Andy Kain added further scores in quick succession to make it 22-0.
Cougars replied with a well-worked try from prolific winger Paul White but there was no denying the gulf in class between the sides.
It was the first time this season that Cougars had suffered back-to-back defeats as they gear up for next Saturday’s match with Swinton in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup fifth round.
Featherstone have serious designs on a place in Super League in the not-too-distant future.
They led in the 16th minute when Gareth Moore collected a pass from half-back partner Kain and threw a superb long pass out to Uaisele, who scampered over from 20 metres out.
In the 23rd minute, Rovers struck again when Cougars lost possession from their own scrum and centre Worthington had a simple task to touch down from point-blank range.
A third try came a minute later as hooker Andy Ellis broke the visitors’ line and showed intelligence to send the supporting Hardman clear from 20 metres out.
They grabbed a fourth when a searing counter-attack culminated in Kain going over the line.
But Cougars responded in the 33rd minute as Jesse Sheriffe’s pass sent White plunging over for an acrobatic finish in the left corner.
Danny Jones added the extras to make it 22-6 but March was put on report and centre Elliott Cosgrove was forced off with a nasty facial injury shortly before half-time.
Three minutes after the break, Will Sharp raced clear down the right flank to score and try number six arrived in the 53rd minute when James Mendieka touched down a grubber kick in the right corner before adding his second in the same spot.
Cougars replied in the closing stages when Jones went over from Scott Law’s inside pass and converted his own try to give the visiting supporters something to cheer.
March reported injuries to Cosgrove (suspected fractured eye socket) and James Haley (back).
“I thought we started off okay but those tries they scored in quick succession put us under the cosh,” he said.
“We were always on the back foot then, trying to get back into the game, and injuries didn’t help us. But I thought we showed some character in the second half.”
Featherstone: Hardman, Uaisele, Worthington, Mendieka, Sharp, Kain, Moore, Crossley, Ellis, Hirst, Cording, Spears, Lockwood. Interchange: Flanagan, Dale, James, Briggs.
Cougars: Jesse Sheriffe, Barnett, Haley, Lawton, White, Jones, Handforth, Jode Sheriffe, Haigh, Hesketh, Lynam, Rawlins, Marc. Interchange: Lee, Law, Cherryholme, Cosgrove.
Referee: D Sharpe.