Rovers ready for big test at West Ealing

Jon Sharp: "It's a massive challenge but one we are looking forward to."
Jon Sharp: "It's a massive challenge but one we are looking forward to."

Featherstone coach Jon Sharp expects a stern test in Saturday’s Challenge Cup fourth round clash against London Broncos at West Ealing (8pm kick-off).

London head the Championship with five wins from six games and Rovers are just two points behind them after winning their last four matches.

“It’s a massive challenge but one we are looking forward to. In theory London are the best team in the competition at the minute,” said Sharp.

“We have the best defence in the competition by a long way. We have conceded only 70 points but our solid defence will be challenged this weekend because London are a good attacking team.

“We are on a winning run and it’s a good habit to have.

“Winning tight games gives you some confidence as well. It may well come down to a drop goal or a last minute play this weekend.

“We are just enjoying playing and the more games we have we’ll get better and better. Every week I talk about us being a new team but it’s a fact. We will improve as we get going but I don’t think we are doing bad at the minute.”

Rovers beat London 36-4 in last October’s Championship Shield final at Widnes but both teams will be much-changed this Saturday.

“We’ll have probably nine new players in our team and they’ll have probably six in theirs so it will very different teams and I think both sides have improved,” added Sharp.

“I think a couple of our old players have had a good influence on London in Jack Bussey and Alex Foster.

“I think Jack, in particular, has been really good for them.”

Sharp was Huddersfield’s head coach in 2006 when they lost to favourites St Helens at Wembley after reaching their first Challenge Cup final in over 40 years by beating Leeds Rhinos 30-12 in the semi-finals.

He said: “I have been fortunate enough to be a coach in a Challenge Cup final so I know what a great occasion it is.

“ I have also taken an unfancied team to a semi-final and sprung a big surprise by beating Leeds.

“I have a special affinity with the Challenge Cup and I know from past experience that it’s full of surprises and with the luck of the draw you can have a good cup run.”

Saturday’s match is start of a crucial spell for Rovers who then host Sheffield on Good Friday, visit London again on Easter Monday and then face Halifax on April 3.

“We can’t ask for a harder spell really, but we are in good form and we go into it with confidence,” said Sharp.

Saturday night’s cup tie at London will be screened live on two big screens and five TV screens in the Rovers clubhouse.

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