New signings in line to face Halifax

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New signings Will Sharp and Frankie Mariano are in contention to make their Featherstone debuts in Sunday’s home game against Kingstone Press Championship leaders Halifax.

Former Hull FC and London Broncos winger Sharp, who has recently been playing rugby union for Doncaster, has signed a contract to the end of the season and second-rower Mariano (pictured) has joined Rovers on loan from neighbours Wakefield Wildcats.

“They are both available for selection,” said Rovers coach Daryl Powell.

“I will have a look at them in training and see where they are at and make sure they slot in. If they do, I’ll consider them for Sunday.”

Twelve months ago, Halifax were the last visiting team to win at Big Fellas Stadium, thrashing Rovers 60-12 when Powell’s men were distracted by their Challenge Cup run.

This time around Rovers are out of the Challenge Cup after Saturday’s defeat at London while Halifax visit Sheffield Eagles in the fifth round after trouncing Barrow 52-6 last weekend.

“It’s a big game on Sunday, it goes without saying. They always are against Halifax,” said Powell.

“We’ve had some unbelievable encounters against them in the recent past and there’s been nothing between the teams on loads of occasions so you’d expect Sunday’s game to be a fair old tussle.

“Looking at the form of the two sides, Halifax would be favourites and I wouldn’t argue with that but I think we’ve set ourselves up with a good performance at London leading into this game.

“Halifax are playing exceptionally well. They are scoring a lot of points and really making it difficult for teams. You’d expect them to be favourites and we’ve got to turn up and make sure we are right on our standards and I’m confident we will be.

“Halifax got us around the Challenge Cup period last season but maybe it will flip around this year because they are still in the Challenge Cup. They play Sheffield in the next round and you never know how it’s going to affect your form if you do get to the stages where are you are playing in really big games.

“But at the moment Halifax are coming off a couple of really big wins.They put Leigh to the sword a couple of weeks ago and they look like they have improved, particularly with Scott Murrell in their team. He seems to be having a big impact on what they are doing.”

Sunday’s game is one Rovers need to win to step up their bid to lift the League Leaders’ Shield for a fourth successive season.

They are currently six points adrift of unbeaten Halifax but have a game in hand.

“Obviously, you want to finish top and be the most consistent team across the year,” added Powell.

“It’s obviously not massively significant in terms of winning the Grand Final but it’s something we’ve done exceptionally well over the last three years and we’d like to do it again. In terms of that, this is a significant game, there’s no question about that.

“It’s a tough period for us because we visit Batley the following week. Batley were a fraction away from beating Huddersfield last weekend so you can see what sort of teams we are competing against.

“It’s about us doing it on the field to justify beating these sides - there are no guarantees. You’ve got to go out there and work hard against good quality opposition.”