‘Big game’ against Halifax pleases Powell

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COACH Daryl Powell believes Featherstone’s Co-operative Championship clash against Halifax at Bigfellas Stadium this weekend is an ideal fixture for his side after their Carnegie Challenge Cup run.

Rovers will be looking to build on their cup exploits when they take on Halifax in tomorrow’s (Sunday) top-of-the-table clash.

“I am pleased it is a big game because I think we need that at the moment to stimulate us,” said Powell (pictured).

“I am hoping we are going to be able to retain the same sort of intensity in our performance. That is what we have been talking about this week.

“I see it as a really big game for us in terms of our league campaign. It’s now about finding some consistency of intensity, effort, determination and application to our game.

“If we can maintain our levels similar to the heights they’ve been at then we know we’ll be a very difficult team to beat.”

Powell says his players can take great confidence from their cup performances against Super League clubs Wigan and Castleford Tigers.

“There is a lot of confidence that will have been gained from the way we have competed. It has probably been on an equal footing as well. I don’t think we have looked out for place for one minute of either game,” he added.

“When you look at the Opta stats for the matches we are not far away performance wise. We can certainly be pleased with what we’ve been able to do in the Challenge Cup this year.

“We were beaten heavily by St Helens in the cup last season and we lost at Leeds in a pre-season game this year. They were poor efforts and we were desperate to put that right - I certainly was as a coach - and the players have shown they were. They have done a great job in fronting up in every single department.

“We’ve learned a lot from it and we now need to focus and move on to being outstanding in our league campaign

Powell is expecting the usual tough game against old rivals Halifax who Rovers pipped 34-32 at The Shay in the Northern Rail Cup group stages earlier this season.

“Halifax showed us when we played them in the Northern Rail Cup that they were a big challenge to us and they had a few injuries that day,” he said.

“They are going to be one of the big challenges in the Northern Rail Cup and the league campaign so it’s important we play really well against them.

“Halifax have had a couple of losses to Leigh in their last two games so they will certainly be looking at getting a response.

“From our point of view it’s about stepping up. We now need to step up. The Challenge Cup has gone and it’s now the bread and butter of Championship rugby league. We have to maintain our standards and that’s absolutely crucial to us.”

Powell hopes the extra fans Rovers attracted to their cup games will now become regular visitors to matches at Bigfellas Stadium.

He said: “Hopefully, the people who have come down, whether it is for the first time in a while or the first time ever have got a lot out of the games both enjoyment and atmosphere wise.

“Obviously, a big part of what we are trying to do at the moment is grow our support and hopefully we can retain the people who have attended our last few home games.”

Rovers will be without injured Tangi Ropati and Tommy Saxton tomorrow.

Saxton could be out for up to four weeks after he sustained a groin injury against Wigan.

Ian Hardman, who suffered an elbow injury against Wigan, is likely to be fit and Matty Dale may be back after missing the game with a knee injury.

Andy Bostock will also come into contention.

Powell said: “I am not sure about Matty Dale. We’ll get a check on him throughout the week. It’s looking like Ian Hardman will be okay for the weekend but again we’ll check on him.”

The Rovers boss may look at making loan signings if injury problems persist.

He said: “Potentially, there could be loan signings but there’s nothing done yet. We look like we’ll be okay this week. It’s one of those things that is going to be ongoing and just a case of monitoring where we are at with injuries.”

Powell is delighted that skipper Stuart Dickens and Jonny Hepworth have agreed new contracts.

He said: “We are working through our squad at the moment and we are offering contracts to a few different players and that process will continue.

“We are making sure we get what we want for next year and obviously we are looking to improve the squad as well.”

Supporters can pre-purchase tickets for tomorrow’s game against Halifax at a discounted rate.

Adults can pre-purchase for £13 (rather than £15) and concessions can pre-purchase tickets for £8 (rather than £9).

Tickets can bought in person from the main office at the Bigfellas Stadium, by calling 01977-702386 or visiting www.featherstonerovers.net

Admission on the day will be £15 adults, £9 concessions and £3 children.

Rovers under 18s host St Helens in a Valvoline Academy League match at Bigfellas Stadium this afternoon (Saturday, 2pm. Admission is £3 adults and £1 concessions. There is free admission for juniors.

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are C Young (P3041), J Hargreaves (I5134), D Hutchinson (N1120), P Tosney (R2141), K Dennis (I5821).