Stanley Rangers travelled into the Lions Den to face Featherstone Lions on the 21st October.
Rangers again stepped up fearlessly to take on higher division opposition in preparation for the Cup match coming up. A real arm wrestle started the game, both packs trying to lay a platform. Stanley’s Medlock, Kelly, Roberts, Govoskiey and Captain Owen Hopkinson guided by hooker Gilfeather, more than matched the bigger Lions pack. The lads in red and black started to play the better rugby and some smart play from Wheelhouse and Harnetty sent Ben Bradbury through a gap powerfully on the 5th tackle to score 0-4 after the conversion was missed. The Lions got a foot hold in the game and Stanley had to defend 3 sets on their own line to keep out the Lions. Stanley were tenacious in defence, winning the ball back only to knock the ball on. Featherstone applied more pressure with another 3 sets on the Rangers line but Stanley wouldn’t let their opponents cross, Casey Rogerson placing himself in a great position to intercept the ball. Stanley moved the ball early to giving flying centre Sam Moore some space to break 60m and looking like he was in but a great tackle came in from the fullback. Moore had the piece of mind to offload the ball to Gilfeather who then quickly got Harnetty under the sticks for a champagne try, the conversion was kicked by Earnshaw making the score 0-10 and Stanley were the happier team at half time.
Lions started the 2nd half well, getting down the pitch. Although Stanley's Govoskiey was sin-binned, 12-man Rangers toughed it out, defending their line with pride and finally getting the ball in hand - a smart pass putting Hopkinson away in his own half. The loose forward still with a lot to do showed great speed and feet to leave the fullback wrong-footed and scored a fantastic solo try. The conversion missed making it 0-14. With the game looking less likely to go their way, the higher division team used some tough tactics but Stanley kept there discipline even when Wheelhouse was sin binned. Stanley made some changes - Hampshire and Talbot making a impact in the pack and Wilkinson defended stoutly on the wing even when outnumbered due to being down to 12. Rangers wouldn’t let the Lions Cross the whitewash, Stanley finished the game the best and another strong run from Hopkinson saw him power over under the sticks the conversion kicking by Hampshire, the final whistle went with the score 0-20, Lions dejected, the Rangers elated.
Stanley's head coach was proud of the Stanley defence saying it’s the best defence he’s ever seen, " - that’s what won us the game. With the ball in hand we made a few mistakes in are own half we’ll look at but we scored some fantastic tries". All the team deserved a mention after the game but the Man of the Match went to Clay Harnetty. Head coach Paul Dean saying it’s the best performance in a Stanley shirt Harnetty’s had so far. The future is bright, with all the team committed to the future.