Bumper crowd set to see derby clash

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FEATHERSTONE coach Daryl Powell predicts a “carnival atmosphere” when Rovers lock horns with derby rivals Castleford Tigers in tomorrow’s (Saturday) Challenge Cup fourth round tie (3pm kick-off)

The eagerly-awaited clash between Championship winners Featherstone and their Super League neighbours is set to attract a bumper crowd at Bigfellas Stadium.

And Powell (pictured) hopes both sets of fans will be on their best behaviour at the first competitive game between the two teams for five years.

“I think it will be a fantastic day for the club and hopefully for both sets of fans who will enjoy what should be a real carnival atmosphere,” he said.

“I’m really hopeful the game is supported in the right spirit because I think that is high on the list of everybody’s priorities. It should be a great game and I’m looking forward to it. Both sets of fans should be able to just enjoy the rugby league.”

Rovers will be underdogs but Powell refuses to rule out an upset.

“It’s a one-off game. I have played in teams that have beaten higher level opposition and it’s possible,” he added.

“We are going to have to be outstanding from 1 to 17, there’s no doubt about that.

“I’ve attended Castleford’s last three games and they are playing exceptionally well at the moment. Even with a number of players missing against St Helens on Monday they were tough and aggressive and difficult to break down.

“Physically, they are a big outfit and they are pretty aggressive defensively. The three games I’ve seen they’ve played pretty well with the ball and you don’t want them inside your ‘20’ too often.

“They have some high quality players at any level of rugby league and it’s going to be a tough challenge for us, we are aware of that, but you never say never.

“It’s about us being as good as we possibly can be. If we come up with our best performance – and that’s what I am looking for – the rest will take care of itself.

“It should give the club a boost at all levels but from a performance point of view the only way it can give us a boost is if we play well.

“The match is on TV and we need to make sure we are seen in the right way for all the right reasons and obviously the performance of the team is right at the top of those priorities.

“We are going to have to be exceptionally tough this week to come up with a top quality perrformance.”

Rovers are set to be at full strength tomorrow with the return of hooker Ben Kaye who missed last Saturday’s match against Sheffield Eagles because of an eye problem.

Anthony England, who sustained an arm injury against Sheffield, is doubtful for this weekend.

Former Great Britain winger Gareth Raynor returned to training this week after taking a break from the game but he will not play tomorrow.

Powell said: “Gareth has got to put himself back into contention and then we’ll see where it goes from there.”

Tomorrow’s game is not all-ticket but fans of both clubs are advised to buy tickets in advance to avoid queuing on the day. Rovers had sold more than 2,500 tickets for the game earlier this week and tickets for the main stand had nearly sold out. Tickets will remain on sale at Bigfellas Stadium until 4pm today (Friday). People paying by cash on the day are advised to arrive early. Gates will open at 11.30am

Powell believes Saturday’s cup tie was a distraction for his players before last weekend’s shock defeat against Sheffield.

Featherstone’s 22-match unbeaten league run ended when they conceded 11 tries in a 60-40 loss.

He said: “I think there’s been a distraction around what we’ve been doing with the cup game this weekend.

“We have tried our best to keep away from it and not really talk about it but it’s pretty hard not to know there’s a big game coming up. I do think it’s had an impact.

“The cup game is here now and it’s important we learn from the calamity of last weekend and put it behind us.

“It was ridiculous really against Sheffield. Some of the pass plays were either a try for us or a try for them and unfortunately most of them ended up with a try for them.

“To give away as many intercepts as we did was uncanny. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that before. On the back of that we gave some soft tries away defensively.”