Featherstone Rovers snatched a 28-26 win over Batley Bulldogs in an amazing finish to Monday’s Championship Shield clash at Big Fellas Stadium.
Trailing 26-6 with 10 minutes left, Rovers stormed back cut the gap to 26-22 but it looked as though they had run out of time when the final hooter sounded.
However, Batley’s man of the match Shaun Ainscough, who scored two tries, gifted them victory with an incredible blunder.
After the hooter had gone, Ainscough could have run the ball out of play near half way but instead he kicked it in the direction of the touchline.
He failed to find touch and Featherstone winger Will Sharp snapped up the loose ball and scrambled over for a try to level the scores.
Paul Sykes added a touchline goal to earn Rovers their fourth straight win and seal a home play-off semi-final.
Batley’s undeserved defeat put them back in relegation trouble. They are now only two points clear second bottom Hunslet who won at Whitehaven.
The Bulldogs were by far the better team for 70 minutes, with scrum-half Scott Leatherbarrow dictating play with his clever kicks.
Rovers, who lost centre Alex Foster with an ankle injury, took a 33rd minute lead against the run of play when Andy Ellis scored from acting half and Sykes added the first of his four goals.
Four minutes later, Ainscough crossed from Elliot Cosgrove’s pass to make it 6-6 at half-time.
The Bulldogs took control with two tries in three minutes early in the second period.
Anthony Nicholson scored from acting half before Cain Southernwood’s crossfield kick created a try for Sam Scott.
Rovers had a let-off when Ainscough made a delightful break but Wayne Reittie was unable to gather Cosgrove’s pass when a try looked certain.
Leatherbarrow kicked a 56th minute penalty to edge the Bulldogs further ahead and they stretched their advantage to 20 points when Leatherbarrow sent in Ainscough for his second try 13 minutes from time.
Sam Day started Featherstone’s revival by forcing his way over from close range.
Paul Cooke’s astute kick then saw Kyran Johnson race over before Sykes put in a kick and Ian Hardman hacked the ball on for Sykes to score.
Then came Ainscough’s error which cost Batley dear.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman; Johnson, Sykes, Foster, Sharp; Cooke, Milner; Baldwinson, Ellis, Bussey, Spears, Snitch, Ormondroyd. Subs: Day, Knowles-Tagg, Cooper, Coventry.
Batley Bulldogs: Craven; Reittie, Squires, Cosgrove, Ainscough; Southernwood, Leatherbarrow; Hirst, Blake, Hesketh, Scott, Day, J Brown. Subs: Nicholson, Rowe, Lillycrop, A Brown
Referee: Gareth Hewer.