Suspended Moore misses Featherstone’s final home league match

Gareth Moore has been handed a onne-match ban. Picture: Bob Nunn.
Gareth Moore has been handed a onne-match ban. Picture: Bob Nunn.

Featherstone Rovers hope to welcome back skipper Tim Spears for their final home league match of the season against Sheffield Eagles but they will be without suspended goalkicking scrum-half Gareth Moore.

Forward Spears, who has missed the last 11 games with a torn bicep, will have a fitness test before the clash against Sheffield at Big Fellas Stadium on Sunday.

Moore has been handed a one-match ban. He submitted an early guilty plea after being charged with a grade B offence of punching in the recent 48-18 defeat at Leigh Centurions.

Rovers coach Andy Hay said: “Tim was keen to play in our last game at Halifax and it was hard to stop him pulling on a shirt. He just wants to get back playing.

“He’s been great while he’s been injured. We’ve missed him playing wise but he’s been on the field with the boys every game and he’s been a real asset to us.

“To get him back on the field in a playing shirt will be even better. Hopefully, it will go well in training next week and he’ll be available for selection.

“Gareth has taken an early guilty plea so he’ll have a one game suspension.

“It’s a shame because he’s been playing really well. Even at Leigh, in a side where we were well beaten, he stood out as one of the players who had a real go at them.

“He played well again at Halifax at the weekend so we are going to miss him. It will provide an opportunity for another goalkicker so I’m sure they’ll all be practising goalkicking this week in training.

“There were no injuries from the match at Halifax. There were a few bumps and bruises and people carrying knocks but nothing serious and that’s a real bonus for us. Hopefully, we’ve finished the run of bad luck with injuries and we can move forward now looking into the play offs.”

Hay was delighted with his side’s display in the crucial 20-4 victory at Halifax which lifted Rovers back to second place in the Kingstone Press Championship.

“It was a win at all cost game and I thought the players did really well,” he added.

“Defensively it was the best display since I came to Featherstone. There was a lot of pressure on the players going into the game and, credit to them, they handled it really well.”

Rovers, who host Sheffield and visit Keighley in the last two matches of the regular season, are strong favourites to finish runners up. They are two points ahead of third-placed Halifax whose last two games are against Doncaster away and Barrow at home.

“Keighley are battling to get in the top eight and Sheffield are battling to get in the top six so it’s not going to be easy for us,” added Hay, who is looking for Rovers to finish their league campaign with a flourish ahead of the play-offs.

“It’s in our hands. We are capable of winning both those games if we perform to our best,” he continued.

“If you look at this season from the start and even into last year it has been up and down at Featherstone for 12 to 18 months.

“If we could pull something out of this season it would be a great credit to the club, the players and the people involved.

“I’ve jumped in half way through and I’m just trying to steer them towards the end.

“If we get second place and have a really good crack at the play-offs we’ll have done fairly well under adverse circumstances this year.”

Rovers coach Hay praised the performances of Will Sharp, Ian Hardman and young forwards Luke Teasdale and Shaun Pick in the win at Halifax.

Man of the match Sharp switched to full-back and Hardman went to centre in a tactical move that paid big dividends.

Hay said: “Ian Hardman has been very good when I’ve played him at centre and I thought we needed some really good defensive steel in our centres on our right edge which we got from Ian.

“Will Sharp has played full-back before and it gave us a really strong back three with him, Ben Blackmore and Jason Crookes.

“I just thought we looked a better balanced team and obviously it paid off because Sharpy had a great game and I thought Ian Hardman was not far behind with his defence and his skills in attack which saw Jason Crookes put three tries on the board.

“Luke Teasdale has been pushing all year and it’s been difficult because we’ve had Andy Ellis and George Flanagan rotating at hooker.

“They are two pretty good players so Luke has had to bide his time a little bit and wait for his opportunity which he has now taken. I was really pleased for him. He looked really good.

“He attacked from dummy half well and defended well. He’s a strong player round the middle. It was a good game to throw him in and he didn’t let anyone down.

“Shaun Pick has played really well for us and been consistent in every game since he got in the first-team. He just does his job for us. He goes about his business in a quiet manner but all the boys appreciate what he does and I think he’s going to turn out to be a pretty good player for us.”

Veteran half-back Jamie Rooney, who recently rejoined Rovers, has taken a break.

Hay said: “Jamie asked for some time off from the club and we granted his wish so we’ve got to sit down in the next week or so and see where we are at with it.

“We’d like to think we can sort some things out and see where we go with him.

“We’ve given him some time off to clear his head and we’ll see how it works out going forward.”

Rovers have family tickets on sale for the home game against Sheffield. The tickets cost £25 and admit to two adults and two children to the game.

The tickets can be purchased in the main office at the Big Fellas Stadium (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday) and at any of the club’s community activity days.