Dale set to make his Rovers return

Matty Dale
Matty Dale

FEATHERSTONE forward Matty Dale will be back for next Thursday’s Grand Final qualifier against Leigh Centurions at Bigfellas Stadium (7.30).

Dale (pictured) did not play in last Sunday’s final league game at Widnes Vikings after dislocating two fingers in the recent win at Sheffield Eagles.

Rovers coach Daryl Powell said: “Matty needed a break to allow his fingers to heal but he’ll be fine for the play-off match against Leigh.”

Powell will also be checking on winger Bryn Powell who has missed the last two matches with an ankle injury.

“We’ll keep checking on Bryn. He wasn’t available for last Sunday’s game through injury so we’ll see how he goes over the next week,” he said.

“He’ll probably be okay but we won’t know really until later in the week or early next week whether he’s going to be right and then obviously I’ve got to make a decision on the back of a team that’s played pretty well.”

There is an outside chance prop Mick Haley could figure in the play-off campaign.

Haley was expected to miss the rest of the season after he sustained a broken arm in the 36-28 victory at Barrow Raiders at the end of June.

Powell said: “I don’t think Mick will be available for next Thursday’s match. He’s waiting for a scan on his arm and I don’t think he’ll get it done before then but potentially he could be available for the Grand Final or the final eliminator, whichever game we find ourselves in.

“He’s been training but he hasn’t been into any contact situations yet until he has a scan. There’s potential there but whether I felt confident enough to put him in there is a different issue and something we’ll have to see as and when he gets the all clear.”

The Rovers boss paid tribute to players and supporters after his table-topping side’s 44-4 win at Widnes last weekend.

“It was a great way to finish our league campaign,” he said.

“It was just an unbelievable atmosphere. There were 5,000 people there and probably 1,000 from Featherstone. They enjoyed themselves and it was in the right spirit.

“It was a pretty special day. I think the fans have really enjoyed watching the team this year and they showed that to us at the weekend and we really appreciated it.

“We played some really smart stuff last Sunday.

“I thought we were a bit all over the place with our structure in the first-half but our anticipation and the way we played with our eyes and picked out space was great. In the middle of the field we opened them up with some really clever stuff with our quick hands.

“Our structure was much better in the second-half and we caused Widnes a lot of trouble.”

Rovers finished three points ahead of Leigh and Powell’s men also scored more points and conceded fewer than any other team in the division.

“We set ourselves a target about a month ago of conceding less than 350 points for the campaign. We wanted to be the best defensive side and we only had six points left going into the game so we had to work really hard. I thought that for a group of people to buy into a goal like that shows that things can be achieved. We did a great job to limit Widnes to four points,” said Powell.

“We wanted to take away any arguments that we justifiably finished top and we were able to do that with Sunday’s performance.

“Regardless of whether Widnes are going through a bit of adversity or not it was a pretty good performance from us.

“It has been a great effort over the last two seasons. Being that consistent as a team takes a lot of doing and it’s been a special effort from everyone.”

Sunday’s win stretched Featherstone’s club record unbeaten league run to 19 matches and Powell is happy with his side’s form ahead of the play offs.

He said: “We wanted to go into the play offs feeling good about ourselves and we’ve done that. Our form has been good and we’ve conceded an average of only eight points over our last couple of games.

“It’s been pleasing but the league campaign is finished now and we’ve got to re-focus because we know it’s going to be a tough challenge for us in the play-offs. I think we are going to need to improve a little bit.

“We’ll be having a good look at Leigh and really working hard to be right on top of our game for when we meet them.

“It’s about playing as well as we can and I am confident we can do that. We know it’s going to be difficult because they are a good side but so are we.

“We just need to go and apply our game and if we do that we know we are a tough side to beat. We are looking forward to the challenge.

“Leigh have been playing pretty well. They’ve pushed us all the way and it has taken some doing to keep ourselves out in front of them. They’ve just not slipped at all.

“They had a a bit of a dip against Halifax but they’ve been magnificent and it should be a great challenge for us.

“We are looking forward to seeing whether we are good enough to get the job done. We are confident that we are but it’s going to be a tough one.”

Rovers reserves visited Leigh on Thursday evening in the Reserves Championship play-off semi-final after winning 35-0 at Whitehaven last weekend.

The team that beat Whitehaven included Nathan Chappell and Tom Hemingway who both made their comebacks.

Hemingway has been sidelined with a broken jaw and Chappell is awaiting a knee operation.

Powell said: “Nathan Chappell has an operation coming up on his cruciate but he just wanted to play and I don’t think he’s going to do any further damage so I was happy to let him play.

“Tom Hemingway was also keen to get involved and they both played really well for the reserves so I was pleased they came through it okay.

“I think if you look at all the grades at the club it has been an excellent season for everybody concerned and it shows the progress we are making on all fronts.”

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are A White (W1746), P Hampshaw (E4728), M Read (G1141), K Adair (E1879), M Oldfield (E4662). Travellers Rest meal voucher: T Burkitt (W3623).