On a day where Lamport Stadium saw a season high attendance of 8,217, Featherstone Rovers managed to do what no team has done since Toronto joined the English leagues, handing the Wolfpack a loss in their last match of the regular season.
Featherstone needed to win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, and right from the first whistle you could see the intensity and the determination that they brought, despite only being able to name 3 substitutes.
Eight minutes into the game, Rovers’ captain Misi Taulapapa crossed the line for the away team, with Ian Hardman kicking the extras. Featherstone showed their respect for Toronto by opting to take the two points from every penalty opportunity that they earned, and after 20 minutes Hardman would add the extra two points to ease Featherstone ahead.
Toronto came back quickly, with vice-captain Ashton Sims finding his way over the line, for his first try as a ‘Pack player. Ryan Brierley was in charge of kicking duties today, and couldn’t miss from under the sticks.
Featherstone fought hard, their impressive attack being rewarded again as Jason Walton crossed the line on the half hour mark. Hardman would add the two, and a few minutes later would capitalize on another penalty, successfully adding two, meaning that Featherstone would end the half in front of a shocked crowd 16-6 ahead.
Toronto came out looking more like the team that we have seen at home this season, with a fired up Adam Sidlow crashing over and Brierley adding the two. But Featherstone kept up their aggression, and shortly afterwards Josh Hardcastle broke through the ‘Pack defense to add the points. Hardman kept up his kicking display, and after yet another penalty given for poor play from the ‘Pack, would again add the two.
Toronto looked defeated, and to add insult to the day, Matty Wildie would easily slip through the Toronto line to add to the scoreboard, and Hardman would once again add the two to hand Toronto their first ever loss on Canadian soil 12-30.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Toronto’s Mind is Elsewhere
Don’t be too hard on Toronto, and don’t be too surprised at this result. Last week, we saw Greg Worthington receive a season ending injury. When the final whistle blows in this game, everything that Toronto have fought for in the past two years will come to a head.
As a Toronto player, do you give everything you have in a game that doesn’t matter for your club, or do you make sure you come through without an injury, so you can focus on the biggest seven games of your career? It’s easy to see today that the ‘Pack had their thoughts on the middle 8’s, and they were up against a team that had to fight to keep their playoff dream alive.
Toronto won’t be too concerned. They’ll be happy to come away with no more injuries and will now start preparation for the biggest games in the franchise’s history so far.
Quinn Ngawati looks a Decent Prospect
We saw a home debut for 19 year old Canadian Quinn Ngawati, the first Canadian to play in the pro league. He did not look out of place, which is a good compliment to the youngster. He put in his tackles, he offered something to both the attack and the defense of the ‘Pack.
On a different day, in a match that had meant more to Toronto, I think we could have seen a lot more from him. But in a difficult fixture, he played his part and he showed that he belongs with the team.
Man Of The Match- Ian Hardman (Featherstone Rovers)
I could have picked four or five players today. To be honest, I should pick 16. Every Featherstone player came to Canada knowing that they had to beat a team that were unbeatable at home to have any chance of making the playoffs. Every player put in a herculean effort and should be very proud.
For me, Hardman led the way with his kicking game. Every opportunity to kick, Hardman stepped up confidently. Missing only two of his attempts today, he kept that scoreboard moving for his team, which in turn gives the team a lot of confidence. It is never easy in a must win game to step up and take the kicking responsibility, but he did a fantastic job and deserves recognition for his confidence and performance.
Toronto Wolfpack 12
Tries: Sims, Sidlow
Goals: Brierley (2)
Drop Goals: n/a
Featherstone Rovers 30
Tries: Taulapapa, Walton, Hardcastle, Wildie
Goals: Hardman (7)
Drop Goals: n/a
Toronto Wolfpack: Wheeler, Rawsthorne, Ngawati, Whiting, Kay, McCrone, Brierley, Emmitt, Ackers, Sims, Beswick, Bussey, Krasniqi.
Interchanges: Dixon, Sidlow, Buchanan, Hopkins.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Whylie, Taulapapa, Hardcastle, Robinson, Thackeray, Wildie, Wheeldon, Carlile, Cooper, Davies, Lockwood, Walton.
Interchanges: Moore, Brooks, Smith
Referee: Greg Dolan