Featherstone Rovers coach Andy Hay has described Sunday’s final home league fixture of the season against Sheffield Eagles as another ‘must win’ game.
The 20-4 victory at Halifax two weeks ago put Rovers firmly in the driving seat to finish second in the Kingstone Press Championship.
They are two points clear of third-placed Halifax, who visit Doncaster this weekend.
Featherstone end the regular season with a trip to Keighley Cougars the following Sunday when Halifax host bottom side Barrow in their last league fixture.
Hay expects a stern test against in-form Sheffield who have won six of their last seven matches.
The Eagles line-up will include ex-Featherstone player Kyle Briggs but they will be without Etu Uaisele.
Tongan international Uaisele cannot play against parent club Featherstone as part of the arrangement that saw Sheffield sign him on loan from Rovers for the remainder of the season.
“We went into the Halifax match knowing that was the start of three big games for us and this is the next one along the path. It’s another must win game,” said Hay.
“The players set themselves some good standards at Halifax and they’ve shown they can work hard as a team in attack and defence.
“It’s now about consistency of performance and improving on the last game.
“Sheffield are a good side and they’ve got some quality players.
“They’ve had a tough year but they have started picking up some wins in the last three or four weeks so it’s going to be a big game for us.
“Kyle Briggs seems to have found a bit of form and most of our players will know what to expect from him.
“He’s been playing a bit in the halves and a bit at loose-forward for Sheffield so we are looking forward to seeing him down here again and the boys getting to grips with him.”
Rovers will aim to maintain an excellent home record on their return to action after last weekend’s break because of the Challenge Cup final. Their solitary home defeat this season was against Leigh in May.
The only other home point they have dropped was in a 22-22 draw against Doncaster.
“It was good to have a break,” added Hay.
“As all Championship teams will tell you, they’ve all been at it since February and even before that with trial games in January so it’s been a long season.
“To get a week off right at the end of the season probably didn’t help us that much but it’s given the players a bit of time off from playing and time to recover and sharpen up for this week.
“The last home game of the regular season is a big occasion.
“Hopefully we’ll get a big crowd down to support the boys.”
Rovers skipper Tim Spears could be back this weekend after missing the last 11 matches with a torn bicep but scrum-half Gareth Moore will be missing because of a one-match suspension.
Hay said: “Tim is looking good. We’ll have a look at him in training this week and see how is up to contact and in defence and if he comes through that all right he will be up for selection.
“It’s a bit of a blow being without Gareth Moore because he’s been playing really well. His kicking game has been very good and he’s been leading us round the field very well.
“We’ve got Jack Bussey who can play six so we could have him and Andy Kain at six and seven. Ian Hardman can also play six so we’ve got options.”
There is an “outside chance’” Jamie Cording could make his comeback after injury before the end of the season.
“Jamie Cording is doing some light running and he may feature in the play off games,” said Hay.
“It’s probably an outside chance at the moment. We’ll see how it goes.”
Rovers have family tickets on sale for Sunday’s home game against Sheffield. The tickets cost £25 and admit 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.
There are also early entry discounts available for Sunday’s match.
Fans who enter the Big Fellas Stadium before 1pm will pay only £12 on the gate for adults and £7 for concessions. The Tottenham Hotspur-Liverpool Premier League match will be shown at 1.30pm in the bar areas.
After the game at 7pm, there will be live entertainment in the Cappers Bar from comedian Simon Ashley.