Sharp expects thrilling cup clash against old rivals Halifax

Jon Sharp:  "We are determined to get through to the next round."
Jon Sharp: "We are determined to get through to the next round."

JON Sharp predicts a thriller when Featherstone lock horns with fellow Kingstone Press Championship outfit Halifax in tonight’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth round tie at LD Nutrition Stadium (8pm).

Both teams are bang in form - Halifax have won their last seven games and Featherstone their last four - as they vie for a place in the last eight.

Rovers boss Sharp believes his side will need to produce an 80-minute display to repeat their 32-26 victory at Halifax earlier this season in tonight’s showdown which will be shown live on Sky TV.

“We expect it to be a thrilling game with plenty of open football. I think both teams will go at it and play some good stuff,” said Sharp who is urging Featherstone supporters to turn out in force.

“We want our fans to really get behind us. We want to make it an intimidating place for visiting teams to play.

“It’s also a good opportunity to showcase our skills on TV and we are looking forward to that as well.

“Featherstone-Halifax games are always special and they are always very tight. There’s never much between the teams and I don’t expect Thursday’s game to be any different.

“Against Halifax you’ve got to play really well for 80 minutes.

“We got off to a really good start their place in round one in the league. I think we scored three tries in the first 20 minutes but it finished up a really tight game.

“I’m under no illusions that we’ll need to be really good for 80 minutes.”

Both clubs are celebrating Challenge Cup milestones, Rovers with the 50th annniversary of their first Wembley triumph in 1967 and Halifax with the 30th annniversary of their last Wembley success.

“We are determined to get through to the next round,” added Sharp.

“We know our club is steeped in Challenge Cup history and we want to progress in the competition.

“It’s a welcome distraction for us from league matches. We are playing well and we want to keep playing. We are fit, fresh and healthy.”

Rovers climbed to second in the Championship last Sunday when they won 38-8 at Rochdale and Toulouse surprisingly lost 27-20 at Swinton.

It put Rovers two points clear of Toulouse, London Broncos and Halifax in their bid to qualify for the Middle Eights for the second successive season.

“It was a massive bonus for us with Toulouse losing,” said Sharp.

“That’s what this competition does. If you turn up and are not ready to play you invariably get beaten. Swinton are a good footballing team who can play.

“We are clear second in the table and it’s just great for the staff and for the fans to see us up there at this stage of the year.

“It’s really pleasing but it’s still as tight as a drum for the top-four so there’s no respite or breathing space.”

Sharp was delighted with his side’s performance at Rochdale when half-back Anthony Thackeray made his comeback after completing a two-match suspension.

“We were really good in the first-half and showed some excellent skill. It was a really good attacking display,” he said.

“Rochdale are a good attacking team. They had lost their previous six games but in those defeats they had managed to average 23 points a game and they had only lost by one try at Hull KR. They had also pushed close a few of the other top teams so I was really pleased with our performance.

“Thackeray came up with some big plays that led to tries for Scott Turner and he also created options for other players. It looked like he’d never been away.

“We scored some brilliant individual tries and some great team tries as well.

“I also thought our decision-making defensively was absolutely outstanding.”

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