Rovers must beat Bulldogs to stay in chase

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "We've got to be good because Batley are really tough to beat."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "We've got to be good because Batley are really tough to beat."

Featherstone Rovers have another must-win match in their bid for a Kingstone Press Championship top-four finish when they visit Batley Bulldogs on Sunday.

Rovers remain three points adrift of both fourth-placed Batley and third-placed Halifax who visit leaders Leigh Centurions this weekend.

Featherstone travel to Halifax the following Sunday before hosting Bradford Bulls in their final fixture in the regular season on July 24.

It will be their third meeting with Batley this year.

Rovers won a league match 14-12 at Big Fellas Stadium in February but they lost 28-10 at Mount Pleasant in the Challenge Cup two months later.

Rovers coach Jon Sharp expects another tight finish this Sunday.

“It’s going to be an 80-minute game and I think it could go down to the wire like it did when we played them down here. It’s about being composed more than anything,” he said.

“We’ve got to be good because Batley are really tough to beat and are playing full of confidence.

“I think we need to be a bit better than we were against Workington last Sunday because obviously we are coming up against better opposition.

“I’m not surprised with how well Batley have done this season because I rate John (Kear) as a coach.

“I’ve been impressed with what they’ve done and that they’ve sustained it as well which proves it’s not a flash in the pan.”

Rovers are again set to be without full-back Danny Craven on Sunday. He has missed the last two matches with a hamstring injury.

Sharp said: “Craven will probably start training next week and he’ll be available the week after.”

Colton Roche, Misi Taulapapa and Jamie Cording were taken off as a precautionary measure in last Sunday’s 44-22 win against Workington Town after suffering knocks but they are all expected to be fit for this weekend.

“It was just precautionary. Everyone is fit and good to go,” added Sharp.

“We can’t complain injury-wise at this stage of the year.”

The Rovers boss was pleased was his side’s performance against Workington last weekend and with the form of half-backs Anthony Thackeray and Kyle Briggs.

“It was good to see players finding a bit of form just at the right time,” he said.

“I thought six and seven were great - I was really pleased with them.

“They were really motivated before the game and I thought they carried out the game plan perfectly.

“Our kicking game was massively improved.

“We scored some really good tries. We’ve been good defensively all year and we’ve still got the best defensive record in the Championship.

“We were a bit loose towards the back end but people were playing out of position and we had adjusted the team a lot.

“We were determined at the start of the year to make our home record much better than it was last year.

“We are currently eight out of 10 and giving the home fans something to cheer about.”

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