Sharp aims for winning finish to league campaign

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "We are looking to win our last four games. We want to finish the season strongly."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "We are looking to win our last four games. We want to finish the season strongly."

COACH JON Sharp wants Featherstone to repeat last season’s storming finish to the regular league campaign.

Rovers snatched a Kingstone Press Championship top-four place last year by winning their last four matches against Workington, Batley, Halifax and Bradford.

With four games remaining this season, they are handily placed in third spot but Sharp says they still can’t afford any slip ups, starting with Sunday’s home game against Batley Bulldogs which is followed by fixtures against Oldham (away), Halifax (home) and Toulouse (away).

“We are looking to win our last four games. We want to finish the season strongly,” he said.

“We’ve had a really good season so far and we’ve never been out of the top four so we are determined to finish the regular season like we did last year.

“I think the experience of last season will do us good. We know what to expect and we know it will be tight.

“We are playing well and showing a good attitude. We are also reasonably healthy so we are confident.

“We’ve to play Halifax and Toulouse so to some extent we are in control of our own destiny.”

Sharp expects the usual tough battle this Sunday against sixth-placed Batley.

The Bulldogs finished third last season - one place above Featherstone - but are out of contention for the top-four this season after losing 10 of their 19 games so far.

However, they have shown a return to form in recent weeks with three successive wins, beating Swinton 26-12, Sheffield 70-12 and Rochdale 24-14.

“Batley are capable of putting some good football together,” added Sharp.

“Featherstone-Batley fixtures are always tough games so we are not expecting anything less this weekend.

“We’ve got to turn up with the same attitude we had against London last Sunday. We are going to have to play every bit as well but for 80 minutes.

“Results went our way last weekend and London are at Hull KR this Sunday so it’s important we beat Batley. It’s a massive game for us.

“We can’t afford any slip ups at this time of year. We’ve got to keep the momentum and the form going.”

Rovers will again be without wingers James Duckworth, Luke Briscoe and Scott Turner for Sunday’s game. Duckworth has a hamstring injury and Briscoe and Turner are both sidelined by ankle trouble but could be back in contention for the visit to Oldham on July 9.

Sharp will be checking on the availability of dual registered players from Leeds Rhinos who host St Helens in a Super League clash this evening (Thursday).

He says Rovers could take numerous positives from last Sunday’s match at London Broncos when they went close to avenging their defeat at the Summer Bash.

“I was really disappointed we didn’t get the two points,” he said.

“We were the better team and we just blew it in the last five minutes.

“The effort and skill were unquestionable. It was just the composure in the last couple of minutes that let us down but the fact we were playing our third game in such a short period of time probably put us under more pressure than we realised.

“Our forwards were great. We were strong and I thought we dominated them. We had good field position and our pivots played with control and kicked extremely well. There were lots and lots of positives to bring into this week’s game.”

Fans can save £2 on admission to Sunday’s match against Batley if they pre-purchase tickets at the Rovers store at LD Nutrition Stadium before 1pm on Saturday.

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners: L Whitley (J0268), K Illingworth (I4547), T Gibson (I1512), N Sellars (N5037). Friday - no winner (rollover). £5 consolation prizes: M Longbottom (V4135), W Collings (V0415).