Angry Featherstone Rovers boss John Duffy is demanding a marked improvement from his players this week after blasting them as “lacking bottle” in the big match at Halifax.
The 34-20 defeat has left Rovers looking nervously over their shoulder as they bid to finish in the top four in the Betfred Championship to reach the Middle 8s Qualifiers once again.
Featherstone now go into this Sunday’s game at Swinton Lions in fourth spot, a point behind Toulouse in second and Halifax in third. They hold a slender one-point advantage over London Broncos and a two-point lead on Leigh Centurions.
While it obviously remains incredibly tight with Leigh likely to win all three of their remaining fixtures against sides in the bottom half it looks like Fev face the prospect of getting squeezed out of the top four unless they win at least two of their three last games, including the final home match against the Broncos on Sunday week.
They cannot afford any slip up this Sunday at Swinton, who they beat 32-18 at the LD Nutrition Stadium in March, and the players are likely to be pushed hard in training this week after head coach Duffy made it clear he would not tolerate another display like the one at Halifax.
He said: “I am bitterly disappointed.
“I thought we were absolutely terrible. We didn’t have any bottle.
“We were nowhere near where we need to be and where we need to go.
“They wanted it more than us. I thought they were clinical where we errored a lot. We didn’t need to, they were just personal errors in D (defence) and with the ball.
“You can’t do it on any day, never mind when it’s 30 degrees.”
Duffy continued: “It is not acceptable, but congratulations to Halifax.
“They really put us to the sword and gave us a schooling in parts of the game.”
Rovers had won their previous four games and would have gone into second place with a victory, but frustrated Duffy felt they were “out-enthused all over the park”.
He added: “It is just not good enough from us.”