Rovers coach expects battle of attrition at Workington

James Cording will be out for four to six weeks with a knee injury. Picture: Bob Nunn.
James Cording will be out for four to six weeks with a knee injury. Picture: Bob Nunn.

Coach Jon Sharp believes Featherstone’s determined display in last weekend’s 28-16 win at Doncaster could stand them in good stead for Sunday’s clash against Workington Town at Derwent Park.

Rovers won 52-0 at Workington in June and trounced them 72-0 at Big Fellas Stadium the previous month but Town are a much improved team since then.

The Cumbrians are currently fourth in the Championship Shield table and are on course to qualify for the play-off semi-finals. They have won their last five matches including home victories over London Broncos and Batley Bulldogs.

“I think the Doncaster game might have been good for us. I think we are going to be in for that type of battle again,” said Sharp.

“We know it’s going to be very tough and it’s going to be a battle of attrition.

“The field at Workington is not very big and I think both sides will be on top of one another so we’ve got to be ready for a really tough game.

“Workington still have plenty to play for and they are playing well and are full of confidence.

“For us, it’s about maintaining momentum and also keeping pressure on players to continue to perform well.”

Featherstone’s second successive Shield win last Sunday kept them in top spot, one point ahead of Dewsbury Rams.

Sharp was pleased with his team’s display and with the performances of young players Sam Day, Kyran Johnson, Jack Ormondroyd and Bradley Knowles-Tagg.

Substitute hooker Day replaced Luke Teasdale who was struggling with a knee injury after playing in the win against Whitehaven the previous week.

“It was a performance that was different from what we’ve seen in the past,” added Sharp.

“It was a dogged display from a determined team who knew they weren’t quite firing on all cylinders but didn’t roll over.

“They stayed positive and finished both halves strongly which for me is manna from heaven because we’ve been trying to get the group a bit fitter and mentally a bit stronger and I thought that resoluteness came out in last Sunday’s game.

“Doncaster played well. Credit to them, they were fighting and scrapping for their lives and you could tell they were and it meant a lot to them.

“Certainly, in the first-half, Doncaster were excellent but we went in at half-time in front and I thought you could see at the back end of the half the better execution in play from us with Steve Snitch’s try.

“We were starting to win the arm wrestle. It’s something we’ve been speaking about for a while about getting into an arm wrestle and coming out the other side winning and we did that.

“I was over the moon with the youngsters. All of them were very good. They added enthusiasm, energy and no lack of skill. I was really pleased with them and I’m excited about the next year or two with them.

“Teasdale was struggling with a sore knee but I wanted to see how Sam Day played as well. I want to give these kids a chance.

“Sam played extremely well and I thought he was really dangerous.

“I thought Jack Ormondroyd had his best game since I’ve been here.”

Sharp is set to field a similar team to the one that played at Doncaster for the game at Workington but Rovers will be without second-rower Jamie Cording who could be out for four to six weeks with a knee injury.

“It looks like medial ligaments. Fingers crossed Jamie will back before the end of the season. He carried the ball well and looked dangerous at Doncaster. It looked like he was going to have a good game and then he came off with the injury, so it was disappointing for him and us, ” said Sharp

Ben Blackmore and Jy Hitchcox will have a run out with Featherstone’s reserves in tonight’s (Thursday) home match against Dewsbury.

They will be aiming to press their claims for a first-team recall against Batley on Bank Holiday Monday, August 31.

Sharp said: “Blackmore and Hitchcox are playing in the reserves this week so they will come back into contention next week but a lot will depend on the guys who have got the spots and how they perform at Workington.”