Featherstone coach Sharp wary of ‘wounded animal’ Dewsbury

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "I'm looking for a good start this Sunday and certainly a defensive response."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "I'm looking for a good start this Sunday and certainly a defensive response."

Featherstone coach Jon Sharp is wary of Sunday’s winless opponents Dewsbury after the Rams parted company with head coach Glenn Morrison this week.

Australian Morrison, who had been in charge of Dewsbury for nearly five years, stepped down after the relegation threatened Rams suffered their sixth successive Championship defeat at Bradford Bulls last weekend.

Dewsbury have placed assistant coaches Karl Pryce and Jonathan Schofield in temporary charge ahead of their home clash against Featherstone who will aim to bounce back after conceding six tries in last Sunday’s 34-26 defeat against Toulouse Olympique at Big Fellas Stadium.

“Dewsbury are a wounded animal and you’ve got to be careful of wounded animals because generally you end up in a fight and get a response from them,” said Sharp.

“I’m sure the people who are in interim charge are going to get the team pumped up and see it as their opportunity so we’ve got to match that.

“We’ve got to concentrate on ourselves this week and not what is happening at Dewsbury.

“We’ve got some things to fix up ourselves without worrying too much about the opposition.

“I’m looking for a good start this Sunday and certainly a defensive response.

“We pride ourselves on our defence and it just wasn’t acceptable against Toulouse.

“We had a meeting on Tuesday night and I put my thoughts across to the players on how I thought we defended last weekend.”

Sharp was left to rue his side’s awful start against Toulouse who he said were the best team Rovers have faced this season.

The French side were 16-0 up after 16 minutes and although Featherstone staged a spirited fightback it wasn’t enough to avert a second successive home defeat.

“There are lessons to be learned every single game whether we win by 50 points or we get beaten and last Sunday was no different,” said Sharp.

“We were well prepared. We’d done a lot of homework and a lot of research on Toulouse.

“When we went out on the field we couldn’t get the ball off them for the first 11 minutes. We never touched the ball once.

“Everything Toulouse tried came off with off-loads and ricochets from speculative kicks and it was just a horror start for us that made it so difficult.

“But I was really pleased with the attitude we showed after that.

“When I made the three changes from the bench all at once I thought that gave us a foothold back in the game and probably for 60 minutes we were the better team and clearly outscored them but the damage had been done.”

Trailing 22-12 at half-time, Featherstone cut the gap to just points with Chris Ulugua’s second try 11 minutes from time.

“Playing up the hill in the second-half, I thought we threw everything at them and gave ourselves a really good chance,” said Sharp.

“I thought when we pulled it back to 28-26 we’d got all the momentum.

“It looked like we’d got the confidence and we’d got Toulouse on the back foot. I thought we’d finish with a win.

“There was then a crucial penalty against Andy Bostock for a ball steal in a tackle and that gave them field position to score a soft try down the short side.

“Toulouse were the best side we’ve come up against this season by a long way.

“How they played in the first-half, I’d put them on a par with last year’s Leigh team. I thought they were outstanding.”

Meanwhile, Rovers have announced a 40 per cent discount for supporters who purchase pre-match tickets for the Challenge Cup fifth round home game against Oldham on Sunday, April 23.

Tickets must be purchased at the Rovers Store at Big Fellas Stadium before 5pm on Wednesday, April 19, to qualify for the discounted price of £12 for adults and £8 for concessions. Junior tickets are priced at £5.

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners: A Blumner (Q2095), M Kielty (N6664), A Waddington (O5649), S Elwin (G145), N Parker (L0344). £5 consolation prizes: P Duker (V0115), R Bennett (W3724).