Featherstone coach Jon Sharp is looking for an improved display from his depleted team in Sunday’s Super 8s Qualifier against Leigh Centurions at Big Fellas Stadium.
Featherstone have conceded 62 points in each of their first two matches against Super League sides Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants and they face another big task against Championship table toppers Leigh who have won their first two Qualifiers against London and Salford.
Rovers can take encouragement from their performances in two narrow defeats against the Centurions this year. They lost 30-24 at Featherstone and were pipped 16-12 at Leigh Sports Village.
Sharp said: “We have to be pleased with how we’ve played against Leigh.
“Their team has changed with heavy recruitment recently and our team will be different this weekend because of injuries.
“Leigh look like a Super League team in waiting.
“They’ve got some really good players, with top-notch Super League players and internationals in their ranks so it’s going to be a similar challenge again for us this weekend. We need to show a bit more of a hard-nosed attitude and we’ve got to be a bit more patient.
“It’s been a fantastic season for us but I’m disappointed with how we’ve played in the last two games because I think we are better than that.”
Sharp was pleased with parts of Featherstone’s performance at Huddersfield but he felt they paid dear for mistakes and a poor completion rate.
“There were too many errors early on and we didn’t build enough pressure,” he added.
“I thought we played better than we did against Leeds and looked like like we had learned lessons in certain areas but clearly not enough.
“It was frustrating because I thought we looked dangerous when we had the ball. We just didn’t keep it long enough.
“When we did complete and we kicked well, we scored tries.”
Sharp was pleased with Rovers debutant Josh Walters who is on loan from Leeds Rhinos and made his return from injury at the John Smith’s Stadium.
“He played well. He came up with some really good stuff, to say he had not played for several weeks. He has got good footwork and he is a big lad.” said Sharp.
Fellow Rhinos loan players Luke Briscoe and Jordan Baldwinson were also in Featherstone’s’ side and Sharp added: “I hope the Leeds lads enjoy it and feel they have improved from the game time when they go back.
“Our younger players Luke Cooper and Bradley Tagg looked comfortable at that next level up.
“From the older end, Kyle Briggs and Ian Hardman were the same and it was a good experience for Jack Ormondroyd. It is invaluable - it is not just about the points, it’s about what it can do for the group long-term.”
Anthony Thackeray started at hooker against Huddersfield, with Andy Ellis being introduced from the bench.
Said Sharp: “It wasn’t a decision made by choice. It was purely a fitness issue with Andy Ellis.”