Rovers coach predicts ‘cracking’ derby match

John Bastian: 'I think there will be cracking crowd because it will be a cracking game to watch.'
John Bastian: 'I think there will be cracking crowd because it will be a cracking game to watch.'

Featherstone Rovers will be seeking a fourth successive pre-season win under new coach John Bastian when they host neighbours Castleford tomorrow (Sunday).

Bastian is relishing tomorrow’s game following Featherstone’s victories against Halifax, Wakefield and Hunslet.

“Castleford are a full-time Super League team and have a very good coach in Daryl Powell,” he said.

“We are looking forward to the game and long-term that’s where we want to go as a club. We are certainly working really hard on a part-time basis and it’s a great challenge for us.

“It’s a local derby and there will be a lot of intensity to the game.

“We want to go out and put in a real performance and we want to try to win that football match and we will be doing our best to as well.

“I think there will be cracking crowd because it will be a cracking game to watch.”

Bastian may reduce the size of his squad for Sunday’s game but he stressed that places are still up for grabs.

“We tried a few things against Halifax and there were a lot of positives came out of that and this week we’ll go with our strongest side,” he said.

“We might drop it down to 21 or 20 this week. I’ll decide on that at the back end of the week.

“The players have been in really good form in the last three games and we’ve done some really good stuff on the football field but it’s never too late for a player to stake a claim and put himself in the picture for the first 17 leading into the opening match at Dewsbury.”

Bastian was pleased with his side’s 30-12 win against Championship rivals Halifax.

Rovers recovered from 6-0 down to lead 18-12 at half-time and then kept Halifax scoreless in the second-half.

“The first 20 minutes made it difficult for us. We conceded too many penalties although I thought one or two of them a little bit harsh,” he said.

“We were on the back foot and for 20 minutes we didn’t get much ball and we were more or less defending. It was very difficult to get some momentum. Slowly but surely we found that momentum and when we did we started scoring points.

“Defensively I thought we were very strong. I thought the defensive systems were improved again against Halifax.

“I thought in the middle it was a more intense competition than the Wakefield game. It was very physical and certainly Halifax came with a game plan but we stood up to that and I thought we dealt with it well.

“On the back of that we weren’t at our best with the ball but it was like a gluepot on the pitch and that made it difficult. As the grounds get harder and faster so will we as a team.”

A special one-day Featherstone and Castleford heritage exhibition will be staged at tomorrow’s game. It will be open to both Tigers and Rovers fans at 2.15pm until the end of the match and will be staged in the white building opposite the turnstiles.

The exhibition is a celebration of the healthy rivalry between the two clubs with items such as programmes, photographs and shirts on display. It will be attended by former players from both clubs.

The idea of the joint exhibition came from Featherstone Rovers’ foundation heritage manager Melissa Schiele who said: “The likelihood of two rival clubs coming together and sharing their heritage is to my knowledge unheard of and shows how passionately both clubs feel. We want to encourage the public to take an active role in preserving their clubs’ history and we hope to support Castleford’s initial steps towards their own project.”

Other activities tomorrow are geared towards family enjoyment.

There will be face painting where children can chose to represent their teams by becoming Rovers mascot Bluebeard or Tigers mascot Tigerman. Children can also have fun on bouncy castles.

Admission on the gate tomorrow is £12 adults, £6 juniors and £4 concessions.

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