Featherstone coach John Bastian believes Sunday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup fifth round showdown between the Championship’s top two will bring out the best in his team.
Three times Wembley winners Rovers visit Leigh Sports Village for the first of two meetings in seven days with the unbeaten Centurions, who travel to Big Fellas Stadium for a league fixture the following Sunday.
“In my opinion, our players respond to the bigger games and I certainly expect our lads to be right on the money on Sunday,” said Bastian.
“It’s a great pitch at Leigh Sports Village and it’s the type of surface we relish playing on.
“We’ll be very focused on the game. We’ll build things up slowly this week and we are looking forward to putting in a big performance this weekend.
“We are very aware that Leigh are at the top of the pile and they are a team that want to be winning games like ourselves.
“Leigh are going well. Credit to coach Paul Rowley who has strengthened his squad this year and he’s very aware - as we are - of the stakes in the Championship this year and certainly of finishing in the top two. They are going about their business particularly well.”
Bastian will be looking for another strong defensive display from his side who have conceded just 117 points in their first eight league matches.
“I think our defence has been excellent apart from a couple of little slips in the last three or four games,” he added.
“We have been very strong all year from the pre-season games into the league campaign and that’s why we have best defensive record in the league.
“I think there’s a lot more from us in that area as well.
“We are still working on some of our defensive techniques and systems and we are certainly going to improve on them in the next month.”
Rovers will be checking on Andy Kain and Steve Crossley who picked up knocks in Friday’s 36-12 win against Keighley.
Bastian said: “Andy Kain got a dead leg on Friday and he was hobbling about a bit. It was precautionary to bring him off and I think he will be okay.
“Steve Crossley got a bit of a niggle with his knee so we will assess that and see how he is this week.”
After rotating players earlier this season, Bastian has fielded an unchanged 17 for the last three games against Keighley, Barrow and North Wales Crusaders.
Bastian explained: “I think the players are doing that. They are performing and winning games and doing a lot of good things.
“I still don’t think we’ve actually hit our straps yet in a game where we can say we were pretty close there to being 100 per cent. I think that’s very, very difficult.
“You practice for that every week and you do the little things to try to improve on where you went wrong. It’s a cycle from week to week, trying to take those small steps that will make you a better team and improve the performance from the previous week and we still have a bit to go on that.”
Rovers have a hospitality package available for their next league game against Leigh at Big Fellas Stadium on Sunday, May 4. It includes a three course meal pre-match, complimentary match day programme and refreshments at half time.
It costs £40 per person or £25 for 2014 Featherstone Rovers members to upgrade for the game. For more information telephone 01977 702386 or send an e-mail to email@example.com