Rovers hit by spate of injuries

MATTY Dale in action in last Sunday's game at Dewsbury. PICTURE: BOB NUNN.

MATTY Dale in action in last Sunday's game at Dewsbury. PICTURE: BOB NUNN.

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FEATHERSTONE have been rocked by another crop of injuries ahead of Sunday’s Co-operative Championship home game against York City Knights.

Matty Dale sustained a broken hand in last weekend’s win at Dewsbury and Sam Smeaton was injured in the warm up to the game.

Tom Hemingway will be out for six weeks after he suffered a broken jaw in training last week. It is the second time this season he has fractured his jaw.

Coach Daryl Powell will also be checking on prop Iain Morrison who is still struggling with a calf injury.

The loss of back row forward Dale - one of the team’s most consistent performers - is a big blow for Rovers.

Powell said: “The injuries are mounting up a bit again and we’ve certainly been unlucky this year.

“We don’t yet know how long Matty Dale will be out. He’s still in the early stages of finding out exactly what he has done. He had an x-ray at hospital on Monday which confirmed the break and we just need to find out how severe it is.

“It’s taking a while for Iain Morrison to get rid of his injury. I think we might have brought him back a little too early last time when he played against Halifax.

“The injury is hanging around a bit and it’s disappointing for him and for us. Hopefully he’s getting a bit closer but whether he’ll be right for this week I don’t know.”

Centre Smeaton suffered a calf problem before the Dewsbury match. It resulted in Greg Worthington taking his place in the starting line-up and Liam Welham being drafted in as a substitute.

Powell said: “Sam was struggling in the warm up. He probably could have played but I am not sure how long he would have lasted.

“We had Liam Welham as 18th man and he came on to the bench and Greg Worthington went straight into the starting line up. Greg has been around us for a while and he knows what is going on so he slotted straight in there. It wasn’t too much of an issue and it didn’t cause us too much disruption.”

Rovers are still without Tommy Saxton (broken thumb).

“Tommy is still a couple of weeks away. He needs to get it checked to see whether it has healed properly. He’s training but he is still finding it a little bit sore,” said Powell.

“It’s been difficult this season with injuries but there’s no point moaning about it. You’ve just got to get on with it. We still have a strong group of players and we’ve had strong teams every time we’ve played this year.

“It’s just a case of going out and getting on with it and I think that is what we are doing that at the moment.

“Players train with us consistently and if you look at Mufara Mvududu he’s come in and been outstanding. That’s why you have depth in your squad .

“We are looking to be a bit more consistent with our performance level but the important thing is that we are still winning games.”

Powell is wary of this weekend’s opponents York who staged a spirited second-half fightback against leaders Leigh Centurions last weekend before losing 48-38.

The Knights have strengthened by signing Anthony Thackeray and ex-Featherstone player James Ford from Widnes Vikings.

Powell said: “I don’t think anyone else has scored as many points against Leigh this year, not even Super League opponents.

“York look like they are improving. Obviously they have recruited Thackeray and Ford from Widnes so they’ve got some good experience. Thackeray is a really clever player with the ball.

“York are a dangerous team. They have some smart players who can hurt you and we’ll need to defend well.

“Obviously we’ve got injuries but to be honest I think the people who have come into our team have done really well so perhaps it just gives an opportunity to someone else to come into the side and perform and prove they should be in there consistently.”

Powell was pleased with his side’s display at Dewsbury which followed the 70-0 Challenge Cup defeat against St Helens the previous Sunday.

He said: “I thought it was a really good response from the boys. It was an outstanding performance. We were pretty tough defensively which was very pleasing after the previous week.

“We were well in front after 15 to 20 minutes and we’d taken a real grip on the match. Our kicking game was great and we completely dominated Dewsbury which was good to see. It was the sort of display we needed.

“There was a very strong wind blowing down the middle of the field and we had the advantage of it in the first-half. We made full use of it and we were 32-0 up at half-time. It was always going to be difficult for Dewsbury to get back into the game after that but obviously the wind aided them in the second-half.

“It was difficult getting out of your own half with the strong wind blowing straight into your face.

“Dewsbury is a tough place to visit. They had drawn 34-34 with Widnes in their last home game and then they were pretty close to beating Barrow away so they’d been going well. They obviously fancied themselves to get a result against us so it was good for us to go there and put in a real clinical performance.”