We must learn to finish off opponents – Powell

FEATHERSTONE centre Liam Welham is available for Sunday's Co-operative Championship game at Hunslet  after recovering from a knee injury. PICTURE: BOB NUNN.
FEATHERSTONE centre Liam Welham is available for Sunday's Co-operative Championship game at Hunslet after recovering from a knee injury. PICTURE: BOB NUNN.
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DARYL Powell believes Featherstone must learn lessons from Monday’s 28-28 draw against Co-operative Championship title rivals Leigh Centurions.

The Rovers boss was disappointed his side did not show a killer instinct when they led 28-16 mid-way through the second-half.

Leigh, playing their second game in four days, regained top spot in the table with Mick Nanyn’s late converted try.

“I thought we had an opportunity to win a game with about 20 minutes to go and I thought we let it slip through our fingers,” said Powell.

“We weren’t hard-nosed enough to finish the job off and I think that’s an element of our game we need to improve and develop. To win something this year I think we are going to have to beat Leigh. They are going pretty well.

“Leigh also played on Friday and they did well against us on Monday. I think you’ve got to give them a lot of credit but I think from our perspective we must improve on being able to finish teams off.”

Rovers were handicapped by the loss of injured backs Andy Bostock, Tommy Saxton and Ian Hardman in the second-half and they also had a 12-6 penalty count against them but Powell refused to blame that.

“There are no excuses - I just don’t think we were good enough to finish the game off,” he said.

“We lost three backs with Bostock, Saxton and Hardman going off and we had to re-shuffle a bit but I thought at that point we should have been further ahead.

“I think we should have tried for a drop goal a little bit earlier than we did and had a 13 point lead.

“We went searching for a big play and a try and when we opened them up it didn’t quite happen for us.

“We will be a little bit disappointed we didn’t get all three points and we’ve now got a bit of a battle on.

“We need to tidy up our game and we need to find that hard-nosed edge.”

There were only two minutes left on the clock when Leigh kept the ball alive in superb fashion with numerous players handling to send in Nanyn near the corner.

Said Powell: “They were chasing the game at that point and they came up with an outstanding play to get a draw but I think we should have probably worked a little harder to get in from the edge and we’d have had a chance of shutting it down.

“I thought Leigh got some really soft tries on us and we had to work pretty hard for most of ours but that’s the way it goes, You’ve got to learn some lessons from it and make sure it doesn’t happen to us again.

“We’ve had it a couple of times in the past when we’ve been unable to kill of teams when we’ve been in good positions. It certainly hurt us on Monday. I think it’s important we learn from it and add little bits to our game that are going to help us to a be harder on the opposition when we’ve got them where we want them.”

Rovers were the fresher team on Monday after being without a game for 11 days but they did not make it count.

Powell said: “Obviously Leigh played on Friday so they would be a little bit down on energy but they didn’t show it to be honest.

“Then again the game we’d talked about we didn’t apply it. We gave away too much in terms of penalties and when we got good field position and we didn’t get a kick away, it was either a penalty or an error from us.

“We needed to finish our sets and force them to come out from their own line a little bit more but we just gave them easy outs and as a result of that I don’t think we won the energy battle and that’s something we had talked about.

“I thought some of the penalties were a bit inconsistent. There were probably about three or four things that I thought were crucial that I think he got wrong but you are going to get that from most referees. He’s a full-time referee and I was a bit disappointed with some things he did but ultimately it has to be down to us and how we apply ourselves, particularly in finishing games off. We had an opportunity to do that and didn’t take it.”

Rovers will be checking on injured trio Bostock, Hardman and Saxton before Sunday’s trip to Hunslet Hawks.

Powell said: “Bostock and Saxton looked like they’d rolled their ankles. Hardman hurt his knee a couple of weeks ago and he got another knock on it.”

Centre Liam Welham is available after recovering from a knee injury. He scored a try in his comeback game with the reserves last Thursday.

Dual-registered Zak Hardaker is also set to return to action after he suffered a broken finger during his Leeds Rhinos debut last month.

Powell said: “I think Zak is going to play this week. It’s just a matter of who he plays for. I need to have a chat with Leeds and see what they are doing. I know they’ve got a couple of injuries.”

Powell will not be taking anything for granted against Sunday’s opponents Hunslet who Rovers beat 56-12 at South Leeds Stadium in the Nortthern Rail Cup quarterfinals earlier this month.

“That doesn’t count for a lot really,” he said.

“I thought they defended pretty well against us last time even though we got away from them a bit in that game.

“You can’t go into any game underestimating the opposition. They have some smart players and they’ve got some threats about them. We’ll need to go there and play for 80 minutes which I don’t think we did the last time we played them. It’s a target of ours that we apply ourselves for longer periods of a game

“You are playing on a tight pitch at South Leeds Stadium and you’ve got to play a slightly different game when you play there so we are going to need to be direct.

“We just need to apply ourselves and focus on ourselves and get our game right.

“We need to focus on improving the little bits of our performance from last week and if we can do that then we’ll go into the game pretty confident.”

Featherstone Rovers under 18s host Sheffield this evening (7.30). Rovers reserves will be aiming for a third successive win when they entertain Oldham in the Reserves Under 23s Chamionship at Bigfellas Stadium tomorrow (8pm).

On Saturday, Rovers host Sheffield at under 15 level (12.30pm kick-off ) and at under 16 level (2.30pm).

Latest £500 winners in the Rovers treasure chest lottery are Mrs Sherburn (V0049), K Humphries (L1613), S Wilson (D6555), M Wood (B6025), A Parker (H5036). Travellers Rest meal voucher: K Glover (V3645).