Featherstone coach Duffy: Good game plan will be needed against Toulouse

Rovers coach John Duffy: "We've got to have a good game plan against these full-time teams." Picture: Dec Hayes.
Rovers coach John Duffy: "We've got to have a good game plan against these full-time teams." Picture: Dec Hayes.

THINGS don’t get any easier for Featherstone after their opening day win over Betfred Championship top-four rivals Halifax.

In a tough start to the season, Rovers now have consecutive matches against full-time opponents Toulouse and London Broncos who also made winning starts to the season last weekend.

The French side trounced Swinton Lions 46-14 and London hammered Barrow 56-12.

Toulouse, who visit LD Nutrition Stadium on Sunday, completed a league double over Rovers last year.

They won 34-26 at Featherstone and then pipped them 32-26 in France in coach John Duffy’s first match in charge of Rovers.

Duffy was happy with the last Sunday’s 20-4 victory against Halifax but says Rovers still need to improve.

“We’ve got full-time teams to play now - two on the bounce - so there are things in our game we’ll need to be really good at,” said the Rovers boss.

“We’ve got to have a good game plan against these full-time teams as well

“Obviously, they’ve a lot of time to rest up and do their work so we’ve got to be really smart over the next two weeks and hopefully get some more good results.”

Duffy believes Rovers need to be better in certain areas but he was happy with their fitness in a strong finish against Halifax when they clinched victory with two tries in the final quarter.

“It was a really tough game and tough conditions as well last Sunday. Although it wasn’t raining it was really heavy leg kind of rugby,” he said.

“That’s what games are going to be like especially at the start of the season and we’ve got to handle it in the right manner. I thought in periods we did and periods we didn’t so that’s something to look at in the video.

“In the first-half I didn’t think we were clinical enough and I thought we were a bit edgy with it being the first game.

“There were a couple of times I thought we should have taken the two points and slotted a goal over in the first-half.

“I wasn’t concerned at half-time. I was just a bit frustrated with what we were doing but we got there in the end.

“At half-time, we spoke about being a bit more composed and I thought we were really professional in the second-half.

“We’ll pick everything to death in our review but I thought we were professional and our fitness levels really shone through at the end and we came away with a good win.

“We’ve spoken about our fitness levels because we’ve worked really hard in the off-season and we knew we’d come through on that if we held the ball well.

“I thought our starting pack were superb and I thought our bench lifted us.

“Our outside backs were really good and made some tough carries for us in the second-half coming out of the bottom end.

“Our pivots took control in the second period and I thought our middle men were superb again across the pitch for us.

“Our wingers took some really good carries and Misi as well coming out of our own half in the second-half.”

Duffy had to shuffle his team after losing injured winger Shaun Robinson in the 60th minute. Misi Taulapapa moved to the wing, Ian Hardman went to centre and Anthony Thackeray took over at full-back.

“We do things in training to cover those scenarios and when we were abroad on the training camp we did all that as well so everyone knew what they had to do when changes were made and everyone slotted in fine,” added Duffy.

“We took Robinson off as a precaution. It was his ankle and the pitch was really heavy so it was just a precaution to bring him off.”

Duffy says Featherstone’s five-day warm-weather camp in Spain last month has greatly benefited them.

“I thought Briscoe’s finish last Sunday was outstanding and Robbo’s (Shaun Robinson) finish was great as well. I think that time away in Spain in the better weather has helped us a great deal. Since we’ve come back we’ve trained with wet, soapy balls every session to get us ready for the weather.

“It’s a long season and we’ve got our first win under our belt going into this weekend so that’s great but we won’t get too far ahead of ourselves.

“I was really happy but obviously we can get better.”

Tickets for this Sunday’s game cost £18 adults, £13 concessions and £5 juniors if they are bought before 2pm on Saturday at the Rovers Store or by calling 01977-7-2386 during normal office hours.

Adult and concession admission prices will rise by £2 on the day of the game.

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are J Clayton (H4412), T Watson (G4694), D M (N0469), H Boynton(H2545). Friday: No winner (£2,250 roll-over next week). £5 winners: Mr P Oakley (V1632), Mrs V Bridges (W1632), Mary Ross (W2731).