Powell looking for improvement

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FEATHERSTONE coach Daryl Powell is looking for a better attacking display in tonight’s Northern Rail Cup semi-final against Leigh Centurions at Bigfellas Stadium (7.30pm).

Rovers have won their last eight league and cup games, including a 22-16 victory at Leigh two weeks ago, but Powell (pictured) believes his side must improve.

He is happy with recent defensive performances but feels the attacking play will need to be sharper if they are reach the Northern Rail Cup final for the first time.

“When we played Leigh two weeks ago, they took a bit of beating then. I think we’ll need to play a bit better than the last time we played them, particularly with the ball,” he said.

“We are looking really solid defensively at the moment but there are still areas of improvement in us which as a coach you are always looking for.

“We are looking to stabilise our attacking game and be more effective when we get into good field positions.

“I think coming off our line we are pretty effective. Against Halifax last week our go forward was really good and our support play and workrate was also good but our effectiveness in good field positions is not accurate enough.

“We are making too many errors and giving too many penalties away. We are looking to reduce those and that should apply more pressure to the opposition. I think that is an area we fell down in last week. I think we’d have been a bit further in front of Halifax at half-time if we’d got that right.”

After losing twice in the Northern Rail Cup semi-finals, Rovers hope it will be a case of third time lucky in their bid to reach the final at Blackpool on July 29.

Hooker Andy Ellis, who is currently on loan at Featherstone, scored two tries in Barrow’s 16-10 win over Rovers in the 2009 semi-final and Powell’s men suffered an agonising 31-30 defeat in extra time against Halifax 12 months ago.

The Rovers boss is looking forward to locking horns with Northern Rail Cup holders Leigh who beat Halifax in last season’s final.

“We’ve had a couple of rough games in semi-finals but they are in the past and we need to focus on what we’ve got now,” he said.

“We are right in the middle of a number of big games at the moment and obviously the Northern Rail Cup semi-final is important to us.

“We need to get the performance right and we are looking forward to the challenge. We know it’s going to be tough.

“We are looking to maintain our defensive solidity and put them under pressure a bit more with the ball. In our last two games an area we can improve is our attacking play in good field positions and we’ll need to tidy that up.

“It’s a home game and you can’t do any better than being at home in a semi-final. We’ve just got to perform and we know that. We are in a reasonably consistent run of form and it’s just about taking that form into this game and taking the confidence we’ve got into this match.

“Leigh have got a lot of size and some smart players. We are aware we are going to need to be right on the money against them.

“The challenge for players and coaching staff is to get yourself into the right mental position when you play big games and I think we are where we need to be at this point in time.”

Rovers will again be without Jon Hepworth (back injury) and Nathan Chappell (rib injury) tonight. They will be checking on Greg Worthington and Matty Dale who picked up injuries at Halifax.

Anthony England, who did not play at Halifax, trained on Monday night and is expected to be fit

Said Powell: “I will have to make a call on our props and see where they all are and make sure we get the right combination out there.

“Hepworth will not be fit for Thursday and we are not sure of the timescale on that one. We are monitoring it to see how he gets on.”

Rovers are two points clear at the top of the Co-operative Championship after beating Halifax 24-4 at The Shay last Thursday but Powell is not taking anything for granted.

“We’ve got six league games left and it’s there for us if we can maintain our consistency,” he said.

“Batley are winning games and they are a tough team to beat. They beat Leigh pretty comfortably last weekend and they are a threat, there’s absolutely no question about that. We play them in a couple of weeks’ time and we’ll look after that game when we get to it. We know there are some challenges down the track.”

Admission tonight is £15 adults, £9 concessions and £3 juniors.

Featherstone host Sheffield in scholarship and academy matches on Saturday. The under 15s kick off at 11am, the under 16s at 12.30pm and the under 18s at 2.30pm. Admission is £3 adults and £1 juniors and concessions.

Rovers are hosting a Leeds United themed dinner and auction at Bigfellas Stadium on Thursday, November 8.

United legends Norman Hunter, Eddie Gray and Paul Reaney will be special guests at the four-course meal.

The trio will be talk about their illustrious careers and share their thoughts on the modern game.

VIP tickets are available for £45 per person or £400 for a table of 10 which includes a photograph taken with all three special guests or £35 per person (£300 for a table of 10). For more details contact 01977-702386 or send an e-mail message to info@featherstonerovers.net

Latest £500 Rovers winners are D Wilson (V2370), D Lamb (N3161), L Webster (G0551), B Mawson (S0512), P Harris (J6603). £5 consolation prizes: T Heseltine (V0232), K Bickerton (V0411), T Birkitt (V2131), D Fox (V0844), C Weaver (V0541).