COACH Daryl Powell will play some of Featherstone’s young guns in Saturday’s Carnegie Challenge Cup third round tie against the Army at Bigfellas Stadium (2pm kick-off).
Powell (pictured) will field a strong line up but he intends resting several players ahead of next Thursday’s opening Co-operative Championship fixture at Leigh Centurions.
“It will be a strong team but some people will have a breather,” he said.
“Stuart Dickens, Matty Dale and Ben Kaye will not play because they have been carrying knocks into recent games and we have a short turn round before we play Leigh in an important match next Thursday.
“I am also hoping to minimise Liam Finn’s game time but that will be dictated by fitness among the group.
“There will be a few blokes rested and there will be an opportunity for some of our younger players to play.”
Powell is expecting a physical contest against the Army, who were trounced 94-2 at Featherstone at the same stage of the competition two years ago.
“By the very nature of the job they do, they are a group of pretty tough people so it’s going to be a physical contest and we need to be ready for that,” he said.
“Hopefully, the pitch will have dried up a bit and we’ll be able to do what we are capable of doing in terms of playing the ball in the wider areas. If we do that and play our game quickly, I think they will find it difficult to contain us but we need to get our attitude and application right. You can’t go into a game expecting things to happen.”
Powell took positives from his side’s first loss this season against Widnes.
He said: “We didn’t play well but we came within a hair’s breadth of getting a result.
“You take a lot of positives out of the commitment and effort the team is capable of putting together and we need that consistently like we had last season.
“I think it’s going to be a tough season this time.
“Widnes and Leigh have improved so there are some fair challenges around and we’ve certainly got a tough first month in the league and we need to really steel ourselves and recognise there’s going to be some arm wrestles to be won.”
Powell believes there were lessons to be learned from Saturday’s 22-16 defeat against the Vikings.
“You can’t always put your finger on it but I don’t think we were as focused as we should have been going into the game and there will certainly be lessons learned from that,” he said.
“It was well below our best. Obviously, conditions dictated a little bit and Widnes jumped on the back of errors and a couple of early penalties from ourselves.There were some poor defensive reads which forced us to concede two tries and as a result of that we were 12-0 down.
“I thought we clawed our way back into the game in the first-half but Widnes got a crucial interception try. They are small margins. It could have been 12-4 but instead it is 18-0 and it is a difficult game for us but we hung in and found a way back into the game .
“We were perhaps a little unfortunate that we didn’t get a draw but Widnes were the better team over the 80 minutes.
“We’ve some tough challenges coming up. I spoke to the players on Monday night and we rammed that message home. We can’t afford to be starting games soft and slow because we’ll get unpicked a little bit and that’s a key lesson to learn.
“It was one of those performances against Widnes when we didn’t get it right but you are going to have those throughout the year. If we can get one out of the way and it doesn’t impact on us too much then we will have learned a pretty strong lesson.”
Powell was pleased with prop Dave Williams’s debut last weekend.
Williams made his first appearance from the bench after joining Rovers on dual registration from Super League club Harlequins.
He said: “Dave Williams came in and did okay for us for his first effort. He likes to get off the line and that’s always a plus for a front rower. It’s difficult to come into a team in your first game and pick up the way they play. He’s badly needed for us because we are missing out on quite a bit of size in the pack at the moment.”
Rovers are making Saturday’s match a family fun day, starting at 11am with a tag rugby contest.
Attractions will also include a climbing wall and the army’s inflatable assault course.
Match admission is £10 for adults, £5 for concessions and £2 for children. There is free admission for Rovers season ticket holders.
After the game there will be a charity auction in the clubhouse.
The day is dedicated to Megan Tonks, who died recently from cystic fibrosis at the age of 12. Her father Ian was a hugely popular player at the club. The club’s share of the half-time golden gamble raffle will be donated to the cystic fibrosis charity.