Powell predicts ‘cracking’ game

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FEATHERSTONE coach Daryl Powell is relishing Easter Monday’s Co-operative Championship top-of-the-table clash against Leigh Centurions at Bigfellas Stadium (4pm kick-off).

Rovers have won their last five matches and Leigh are still unbeaten in all competitions this season.

“It should be a cracking game and hopefully the conditions will be good,” said Powell (pictured).

“Leigh are travelling pretty well and the signs are they are still going to be unbeaten when they come to play us on Monday.

“We’ll have two teams who are going well at the moment going head to head and hopefully we will be good enough to come out with the right result.”

Rovers have fallen lucky with the Easter fixture list because they have only one match whereas Leigh have two games in four days, starting with Friday’s home clash against Barrow Raiders.

Featherstone were scheduled to visit Sheffield Eagles tomorrow but the fixture has now been re-arranged for August 28.

Powell said: “If you ask any coach they will tell you that one game over Easter would be their preference.

“Sheffield couldn’t get the ground on Good Friday because it wasn’t available so the only place we could put the fixture was the day after the Challenge Cup final in August.

“It has given us good preparation time. Leigh will be playing against Barrow on Friday before they can really focus on us so it gives us a full week to have a look at them and make sure our game is right.

“We can pick out how we want to play against them and where we are going to have to be good defensively.”

Rovers will be seeking to avenge a 36-10 defeat at Leigh in their opening league match of the season when they were badly hit by injuries.

Powell said: “We had a tough day at the office. Obviously, we were pretty depleted in terms of front row forwards in that game and that’s where Leigh are particularly strong in the middle of the field.

“It was a tough game for us and they played really well on the night and we couldn’t get our game together but that’s now in the distance past.

“We’ve managed to get stability and continuity and momentum to our game. We are looking to keep that going.”

Powell expects another tough challenge against the Centurions who won all their Northern Rail Cup group matches and have collected maximum points from their first four league games.

He said: “Obviously, it is an important game for both teams. I think we are proably going to meet a number of times in tough challenges over the year so we certainly need to play well in this game.

“Leigh are strong up front. They’ve got David Mills who is a really big bloke and I like Chris Hill who is a good player. They have Mick Govin and John Duffy at nine while James Taylor and Tommy Goulden in the back row are just tough, nuggety type players who came at you hard and defend pretty tough.

“They’ve also got Stuart Littler going well for them in the back row and he has plenty of experience. They are a good team and out wide they’ve got some speed.

“Martyn Ridyard is playing well for them in the halves and Jamie Ellis is doing all right as well so they have plenty of threats.

“It’s going to be a real challenge for us. We are going to have to defend really well. Leigh have put us under more pressure than anyone else this year so we need to be aware of where their real strengths are make sure we nullify them by being efficient defensively.”

Rovers will be able to field a stronger side next Monday than they did when the sides met at Leigh Sports Village last month.

Said Powell: “In general, we’ve now got a stronger squad out on the field every week and we’ve been able to put 1 to 13 in terms of squad numbers on the field in the last couple of games so there’s a little bit of consistency there which I think is really important especially when players are playing well.

“It’s just aboput keeping that consistency and keeping players on their toes and making sure they perform well week to week.”

Rovers are still without Liam Welham (knee) and Greg Worthington (shoulder) who both missed the win against Barrow.

Welham will not be ready to make his comeback in tonight’s reserves championship game against Sheffield at Bigfellas Stadium but he will probably play in the reserves next week.

Powell said: “It looks like Greg Worthington will be out for three or four weeks. We are not exactly certain what his problem is at the moment so we are going evaluate it over the next two or three weeks and see where he is at take it from there.”

The Rovers boss will also be checking on the availability of Zak Hardaker.

Hardaker, who is on a dual registration, has not played since he suffered a broken finger during his Leeds Rhinos debut against St Helens last month.

Powell said: “Zak is likely to be available again in the next week or so. We are just waiting for confirmation from him and from Leeds that he’s available.

“At the moment I’m not exactly sure when he will be available to us. It’s one of those situations that could change depending on what’s happening at Leeds. I’ll be speaking to Leeds this week to find out.”

Prop Dave Williams, signed on a dual registration from Harlequins, has now returned to the London club after making five appearances for Rovers from the bench during their injury crisis.

Powell said: “Dave did a good job for us and we needed him at that point. He’s a good kid as well. He’s gone back and he’s in their first-team so he is doing all right.”

Latest £500 winners in the Rovers treasure chest lottery are D Richardson (R5090), J Silverwood (C6330), A Friend (J1065), B Potter (R3409), B Rothwell (C5259). Travellers Rest meal voucher: M Butler (V3423).