Sharp: We’ll need to be at our best to beat Rochdale

Featherstone coach Jon Sharp: "Rochdale are well coached, they are well organised and they work hard for each other so we are expecting a tough one this Sunday."
Featherstone coach Jon Sharp: "Rochdale are well coached, they are well organised and they work hard for each other so we are expecting a tough one this Sunday."

COACH Jon Sharp says Featherstone will need to be at their best to win Sunday’s tricky Championship game at Rochdale Hornets.

Promoted Hornets won 10-9 at Featherstone in March and underlined their potential with a narrow defeat at leaders Hull Kingston Rovers last weekend.

Sharp was pleased to collect two points from Sunday’s 25-14 win against Sheffield Eagles but he is looking for a much improved performance.

“Rochdale are a difficult team to beat. They have beaten us this season and pushed some other top teams,” said Sharp.

“They are well coached, they are well organised and they work hard for each other so we are expecting a tough one this Sunday.

“We’ve got to be at our best and right on the money. We need to play a little bit better and for longer.”

Sharp is looking for a far better completion rate than the 45 per cent against Sheffield and he also wants Rovers to cut out mistakes and penalties.

“We are making too many errors and conceding too many penalties,” he added.

“A completion rate of 45 per cent doesn’t usually win you a game but I suppose it’s testament to how well we defended, which was again really pleasing.

“We’ve been good all year in that regard and we’ve got the second best defence in the competition.

“It’s not by accident that we defend well - everyone seems to work hard for each for other and they know what they are doing.

“We are just putting ourselves under a bit of pressure with the number of errors we are coming up with at the minute.”

Although Featherstone were below their best last Sunday, it was an important win in the battle for a top-four spot.

They remain level on points with second-placed Toulouse, four adrift of leaders Hull KR and two points ahead of Halifax and London Broncos.

Said Sharp: “You’ve got to bear in mind Sheffield are a team who are difficult to beat. Also, they had won four of their previous five games so they were on a good run.

“It was very much about winning and getting the points because Sheffield can beat anybody on the day.

“We are doing all right at the minute. We are playing some good stuff and although we were a bit patchy against Sheffield I expect us to be better for it.

“We’d rather win ugly than lose playing well especially with how tight it is in the Championship this year.

“It’s very much a case of keeping your cool and I think that’s very important for us.

“I think things just didn’t click for us against Sheffield.

“When we were 18-2 ahead playing downhill and with the players we’d got on the bench, I think everybody expected it just to happen but in rugby league you’ve got to earn the right to play.

“I didn’t think we were patient enough. There were some poor decisions with the ball and some poor off-loads.

“There was some really good stuff as well. We created a lot of chances and then knocked on or made crazy passes.

“It was just one of those games where we couldn’t help ourselves. We just couldn’t stop doing what we were doing, no matter how many messages were sent on.

“We’ve got to improve on what we did last Sunday. We didn’t respect the ball at all and I thought we overplayed at times.”

Centre Chris Ulugia, a close-season signing, maintained his excellent form this year when he scored his ninth try in 14 appearances last Sunday against Sheffield.

“Chris Ulugia is an absolute handful,” said Sharp.

“He’s playing well and I’m really pleased with him.

“He’s been a good signing for us.

“He scored a good try himself last Sunday and also had a hand in Scott Turner’s try so that’s pleasing for us.

“We are pleased with his defending as well.”