‘Good signs’ please Rovers coach Hay ahead of Workington trip

Rovers coach Andy Hay: "We've got a litte bit of learning to do but there were some good signs there." Picture: Bob Nunn.
Rovers coach Andy Hay: "We've got a litte bit of learning to do but there were some good signs there." Picture: Bob Nunn.

Featherstone Rovers will aim to complete their first league double under coach Andy Hay when they visit Workington Town on Sunday.

Rovers are unbeaten in five Kingstone Press Championship matches under new boss Hay, a run that started when they defeated Town 32-20 at Big Fellas Stadium last month in his first match in charge.

Hay expects a stern test in Cumbria this weekend as Rovers look to consolidate second spot after staying three points clear of third-placed Doncaster by drawing 22-22 with them last Sunday.

“Workington have some big kids in their side and it’s another tough one for us,” said Hay.

“We know Wigan will make players available for them on dual reg so we are not sure what team we will face but we know it will be a tough trip, as it usually is when you go to Cumbria.

“They were quite a good side when we faced them last month. They’ve got Peter Lupton at half-back and young Callum Phillips as well. Lewis Tierney played for them at full-back at Halifax last Sunday so he will be a threat running the ball back.

“We are just looking to improve on what we do this week. I thought Doncaster were a fair side and when you put Paul Cooke in there, he’s pulling the strings and leading them around the field. He punishes any mistakes you make and I thought we made too many last Sunday.

“I’m not massively into completions but we were running at 50 per cent in the first-half and we ended up in the second-half at 80 per cent so that tells a story and we’ll get that through to the players.”

Hay was pleased with last Sunday’s improved second-half display.

Rovers were 12-0 down early on and 18-10 behind at half-time but they recovered to lead 22-18 before Doncaster snatched a draw with Richard Whiting’s last minute try.

“We got what we probably deserved at the start of the game with errors and poor ball control but there was a big improvement in the second-half,” he added.

“We ran the ball a lot better and came up with some tries with pressure on their line. It was disappointing to concede the late try because I thought our second-half defensive display was outstanding.

“We’ve got a litte bit of learning to do but there were some good signs there.”

Rovers are still without Matt James (neck injury) but new back row signing Liam Kent is set to make his Rovers debut at Workington and prop Steve Crossley is poised to return after missing two games through illness.

Kent joined Rovers last week from Hull FC after playing on loan at Doncaster.

Hay said: “I know Doncaster were very unhappy to lose Liam Kent because he’s been a really good player for them.”

“Liam will add to our back row.

“He’s fully fit and he’s been playing most of the season so I think he will feature somewhere in the side this Sunday

“Steve Crossley was fit and trained on Saturday so he was available for selection but he hadn’t trained for a week so I didn’t feel I could use him. However, he will be fit for this weekend so we’ve got an opportunity to change the team round a litte bit.

“We’ve got Chris Green and Danny Bridge on loan for another week. We are going to have a look at them this week and decide whether to take that any further and obviously the players themselves have to make a decision as well.”

Hay was pleased with the debut of Australian scrum-half Harry Siejka against Doncaster after he was signed last week on dual registration from Wakefield.

Former Penrith, St George Illawarra and New Zealand Warriors player Siejka made nine Super League appearances for the Wildcats after joining them in March.

Hay said: “It’s difficult to come into his position and command a game which we want the halves to do but I thought he showed some good touches and his defence was pretty solid.

“I think Harry will be good for us. We’ve got him in this week for three sessions so that will help us and help him as well.

“We’ve got him for a month from Wakefield so hopefully he can establish himself a little bit here and get some good game time which he wasn’t going to do at Wakefield. He’s got the enthusiasm for it.

“I met him for a couple of hours before his first session with us and he’s just a young kid who wants to play and that’s what we need.”

After a flurry of recent signings and departures, Hay said there would now be less activity on the transfer front.

“It’s slowing down and we are not necessarily looking for players now,” he said.

“If players jump out at us, we may do, but we are going to stick with what we’ve got for the minute and try to consolidate a little bit over the next three or four weeks and take it from there.”