Rovers prepare for tough challenge at York

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FEATHERSTONE Rovers coach Daryl Powell expects a tough test against York City Knights at Huntington Stadium on Sunday.

Newly-promoted York, coached by former Castleford Tigers boss Dave Woods (pictured), pushed Barrow Raiders all the way at Craven Park last weekend before losing 24-20. Their line-up included former Rovers players Jon Presley, Jack Lee and Duane Straugheir.

Powell was pleased with Featherstone’s opening 54-10 victory against Doncaster but he knows they face a harder task this weekend.

“It’s going to be a stiff test for us. Dave Woods has been around at this level for a while and knows the ins and outs so it’s going to be an interesting game,” he said.

“We will not be taking anything for granted. We will be going there with the right mentality and we recognise it’s a pretty important game for us.

“It was a really good effort from York at Barrow. From the reports, they controlled the ball really well and put Barrow under pressure.

“York have some smart players and their half-backs Chris Thorman and Jonny Presley are really dangerous. Jack Lee is a strong kid who can make life tough if you are loose round the ruck area.

“We will be having a good look at York but we will be focussing on ourselves. We are looking to apply ourselves really well and be consistent in what we are able to deliver each week. We are confident if we get that right we are a really tough challenge for any opponents. We’ll focus on ourselves and make sure our game is where it needs to be and that’s the most important thing for us.”

Hooker James Davey, signed on a dual registration from Wakefield Wildcats, is struggling with a hamstring injury and could be again be missing on Sunday but prop Iain Morrison is again set to figure after his successful comeback against Doncaster.

Morrison had a storming game from the bench in his first senior appearance for eight months following major knee surgery.

Powell said: “The feedback I get from the way James Davey is at the moment is that he’s struggling a little bit. Time will tell over the week but I think he’ll be doubtful for this weekend.

“Iain Morrison looks really fresh and his energy is fantastic and that’s what you get from him. I’m looking forward to him having a really big year this season.

“He was pretty sore after Friday’s game but that was just from being involved in collisions that he hasn’t put himself through for quite a long time. In terms of his previous injury he came through fine.

“I thought the forwards were outstanding against Doncaster. Tony Tonks is looking pretty good. He is consistent with the way he does things and he’s improved out of sight in the last year and a half. It’s pleasing to see the way he goes about his business at the moment.

“We are a little bit skinny in some positions but once everyone’s on board - there will be another signing at some point - it will invigorate us and there’s also Ross Divorty to come back in.

“We have a strong group of players and the mentality is excellent. I’m really pleased with what I see in terms of a team and the way they go about their business, even in really poor conditions like last Friday. They completely controlled the game.”

Featherstone reserves will host Hull Kingston Rovers under 20s in a friendly at Bigfellas Stadium tomorrow evening (7.30pm). Featherstone also host Keighley in reserves friendly next Thursday, February 17 (7.30pm).

Featherstone Rovers open-age women’s team have a home match against Bradford in the Women’s League on Sunday.

Winning numbers in the annual Rovers raffle were: 11009 (£400), 12667 (£250), 3105 (£100), 6642 (food hamper), 1520 (champagne), 9004 (wine), 2750 (wine), 7270 (chocolates), 12838 (wine), 0529 (half bottle whisky), 2012 (chocolates), 12783 (cinzano), 8215 (personal organiser), 8810 (hamper).

Featherstone are 11-4 favourites with Sky Bet to win the Northern Rail Cup this season. Leigh are next in the betting at 5-1, followed by Halifax (11-2), Barrow (13-2) and Widnes (7-1).