Rovers have chance to climb into top four

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "I've never known a competition like it where anyone can beat anyone else."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "I've never known a competition like it where anyone can beat anyone else."

Featherstone will have an opportunity to climb into the Kingstone Press Championship top-four when they visit Whitehaven on Saturday.

It is Featherstone’s game in hand on most of their rivals. The fixture should have been played in February but was postponed because the pitch at the Recreation Ground was unfit.

Victory this weekend would lift Rovers above Batley and Halifax. They would be level on points with fourth-placed Halifax with a superior points difference.

Rovers will hope for a change of luck after recent narrow defeats against Oldham (14-16), Leigh (24-30) and Halifax (20-21).

“I went through a spell like this when I was at Huddersfield,” said Rovers coach Jon Sharp.

“We suffered seven straight defeats and in those games we were never beaten by more than six points. We then went on to win nine successive games and ended up finishing in fifth place and making the play-offs.

“It has a similar feel this season. In large parts, we are playing really well but we are not closing games off.

“We have some players coming back this week so I am excited about what we can start to achieve.

“Whitehaven are hit and miss. One week they look great and then they come up with a surprise defeat.

“It’s going to be a tough one for us this weekend but we should have some troops back and be a bit healthier.”

Rovers still have the Championship’s best defence with only 178 points conceded in 11 matches and Sharp believes points difference could be vitally important this season.

“I’ve never known a competition like it where anyone can beat anyone else. Every week there is a surprise result,” he added.

“I don’t think you will need as many points this year as last season to get in the top four. The way it’s looking I think it could come down to points difference, it’s that tight.

“We still have the best defensive record. When your team is defending well that could go a long way when it comes to the end of the season.”

Sharp was disapppointed with Featherstone’s last gasp defeat at Oldham last weekend but he was pleased with the way experienced forward Steve Snitch came through his first game this season following knee surgery.

“I was disappointed that we threw away two points. I thought we handed it to them,” said Sharp.

“There were just many errors and penalties and we did not close the game off in the last minute.

“It’s a tough place to go and Oldham are a good team but we should have won. We should have closed the game off.

“There was some adversity as well. We lost Danny Craven while we we travelling on the bus to the game. We had to sit down and re-name the team and bring in Jack Coventry who hasn’t played this year.

“Steve Snitch had to play 80 minutes and John Davies had to play at nine.

“I was chuffed to bits with Snitch.

“We were all amazed he managed to play 80 minutes when he couldn’t jog round the field last week. He couldn’t warm up without it hurting so for him to do what he did was an unbelievable effort.”

Featherstone’s line-up at Oldham included new signings Jordan Abdull and Jamie Foster.

Hull FC half-back Abdull has joined Rovers on a month’s loan and former St Helens and Bradford winger Foster has been signed on a short-term contract.

Sharp said: “Abdull coming in has lessened the pressure on the medical team to get Kyle Briggs fit.

“Briggs is a couple of weeks away and the timing might be right where Abdull’s loan finishes and Briggs comes back.

“Foster has come in to replace Scott Turner who has a hamstring injury that could keep him out four or five weeks.

“We needed a goalkicker. The top-four could come down to points difference and Foster has an 85 per cent goalkicking success ratio so it was crucial we had someone who could turn four points into six for us.”

Tickets are now on sale for Featherstone’s match against Halifax at the Blackpool Summer Bash on Sun day, May 29 (5.15pm kick-off).

Transport is also available from the c lub priced £12 per person, departing at 10.30am. The first coach has already sold out and only a limited number of places are still available on the second coach.

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are T Filburn (P3894), V Darby (M3559), C Haddock (BB6289), K Bilclough (I4878), T Wright (O3415).