Coach Jon Sharp saw ‘encouraging signs’ in Featherstone’s performance at Bradford Bulls in their opening Kingstone Press Championship match.
Rovers were beaten 22-12 by full-time Bradford who narrowly missed promotion to Super League last season when they lost to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in the Million Pound game.
“I thought we were resolute and we were tough,” said Sharp.
“We defended for large parts extremely well. The completion rate was not as good as it should be and I thought there were too many unforced errors that put us under a lot of pressure. A lop-sided penalty count - 11-4 against us - really hurt us.
“On the whole there are plenty of things to work on but there are encouraging signs as well.
“Every time we had decent field position and a bit of ball we looked threatening but we just did not have enough of it.
“We had opportunities to build pressure and we came up with mistakes or a penalty and that released the pressure from Bradford who are a well coached full-time team.”
Winger Omari Caro’s hat-trick of tries gave Bradford the edge after full-back Danny Craven’s early try had put Featherstone ahead.
“I thought we defended well for large parts but conceded tries from kicks behind Scott Turner. You have to commend Dannny Addy and his kicking game. I thought he kicked the ball extremely well,” added Sharp.
“For us, it’s very much about we’ve defended really well and we’ve conceded from kicks so it’s something we need to work on but if there is an encouraging sign it’s the fact that when we had the ball we looked dangerous. We didn’t have the ball for long enough but we still competed for 80 minutes so that’s encouraging.
“Anthony Thackeray’s try was a great try. He showed plenty of vision and determination and awareness.
“I also thought he played ewell in general. I thought he controlled the ball well and he kicked the ball well. He’s had a really good pre-season and he’s heading in the right direction for us.
“I think our halves have been great and the full-back as well. We’ve seen lots of encouraging signs and even though we’ve been beaten we have been beaten by a really good full-time team who finished second last year and are going to be a really good team this year
“We are very much a new team. We have 11 new players who played at Bradford so it will take us time to gel but there’s some encouraging signs.
“They showed heart and worked together and don’t give in.
“We created some opportunities and played some really good stuff. Defensively we looked tough and aggressive and we have done all pre-season.
“Once we control the ball a little bit better and stop making errors and we have a more even penalty count that will give us more energy and I think it will make us even more dangerous when we have the ball.”
Sharp was pleased with the performances of Leeds Rhinos dual-registered players Jordan Baldwinson, Ash Handley and Mitch Achurch.
“I was really pleased with them,” he said.
“They’ve had two practice sessions with us and I thought all three played well.
“I thought Achurch was a handful when he carried the ball. Handley carried the ball back well for us and defensively he read the game really well and Baldwinson just carried on from last season when he was abdsolutely outstanding for us.”