Featherstone aiming to gain swift revenge

Featherstone Rovers forward Matty Dale will be out for two months with a broken hand. Picture: Bob Nunn.
Featherstone Rovers forward Matty Dale will be out for two months with a broken hand. Picture: Bob Nunn.
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Coach John Bastian is confident Featherstone can turn the tables on Leigh when the sides lock horns for the second time in seven days.

After beating Rovers 26-16 at Leigh Sports Village in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup fifth round last weekend, the Centurions visit Big Fellas Stadium on Sunday for a Kingstone Press Championship top of the table clash.

Leigh, still unbeaten in all competitions this season, are four points clear of second-placed Rovers, who boast a 100 per cent home record this year.

“We don’t want Leigh to get too far away from us. If we close them out and they don’t get a bonus point we are only one point behind them and that has to be a realistic goal for us this weekend,” said Bastian.

“We want to fix things up from last Sunday and there’s no reason why we can’t come up with a performance and a positive outcome.

“We’ve been great on our own patch and the supporters get right behind us. It’s a great challenge for us to be the team to end Leigh’s winning run.

“Without a shadow of a doubt we can turn the tables.

“Last Sunday’s game will have taken a lot of energy out of Leigh. They were pushed right to the edge in that game so I think we will be the slightly fresher team this weekend because we had better field territory and Leigh had to work a lot harder coming out of their own end. That is something we can take a big positive out of going into this Sunday’s game.

“Last weekend there were some frustrating elements for all of us - staff and players - but we can rectify that this week. We’ll look to respond in a really positive way and try to get the three points on offer that will put us neck and neck with Leigh at the top.”

Bastian wants an improvement in attack and defence. He is looking for sharper finishing, better decision-making and far fewer missed one-on-one tackles this Sunday.

“There was nothing between teams last weekend in terms of quality or the effort and commitment they both put in but there were some areas we need to be a lot stronger in. Finishing things off in the last third of the pitch is a key one but I also thought we missed too many one on one tackles,” he added.

“We certainly had opportunities and some of our decision-making let us down after we worked really hard to get ourselves in good scoring positions. It is an area that has probably let us down in three or four games but against the better teams you’ve got to take your opportunities.

“We need to finish off what we are creating and the pressure we are building. We need to execute and finish off plays and when we do that we are a great side to watch.”

Rovers were handicapped last Sunday with the loss of injured forwards Matty Dale and Andy Bostock.

Dale will be out for eight to ten weeks with a broken hand and Bostock sustained a twisted ankle.

“The loss of those two players had an impact on our game plan and the fatigue it put certain players under throughout the game,” said Bastian who hopes prop Steve Crossley will be available this Sunday after being sidelined with a knee injury .

“Matty Dale has been great for us this season. He has certainly gone up a couple of levels this year. Athletically, he’s far, far better and his energy is superb. We’ll miss him but we’ve players we can bring in.

“We’ll monitor Andy Bostock this week and see how he’s going and hopefully we’ll have Steve Crossley back in contention.”