Duffy looks for improvement in goal line defence at Leigh

John Duffy: "There were a couple of soft tries we conceded."
John Duffy: "There were a couple of soft tries we conceded."

FEATHERSTONE coach John Duffy is looking for better goal line defence in Sunday’s Betfred Championship clash at his old club Leigh Centurions.

Duffy wasn’t entirely satisfied with Sunday’s 58-14 win against Sheffield because he was concerned about the three tries Rovers conceded.

“I thought our goal line defence wasn’t too good against Sheffield. We’ll have to work on that this week,” he said.

“I thought our yardage defence was superb but we could have been a lot better on our own goal line. There were a couple of soft tries we conceded. “

Former half-back Duffy made nearly 200 appearances in three spells with Leigh. He will face them this weekend for the second time since he took charge at Featherstone.

The Centurions won 38-12 at LD Nutrition Stadium in last season’s opening Super 8s fixture but ultimately it wasn’t enough to keep them in Super League because they lost 26-10 to Catalans Dragons in the Million Pound Game.

Following relegation, they were widely tipped to finish top of the Championship this year but they have started badly, losing three of their first four games, and are currently languishing in ninth place in the table.

Their latest defeat - at home to Toulouse last Sunday - resulted in Neil Jukes resigning as head coach the next day.

Kieron Purtill will be caretaker-coach this Sunday, with Paul Anderson acting as his assistant.

Despite Leigh’s poor start to the campaign, Duffy expects a huge test this weekend.

“We had a great result against Sheffield and we’ve got got to take that into next week and perform consistently,” said the Rovers boss.

“It will be a massive game at Leigh against another full-time team so we’ve got to make sure we get our game plan right and go there with the right attitude.”

Duffy was pleased with his side’s attitude against Sheffield after the 44-24 hammering at London the previous week.

“It was just the response we needed after the defeat at London,” he said.

“I thought we set out our stall from our first set from the kick-off and put them to the sword.

“We just wanted to put some wrongs right from the previous week because I thought in the first 40 minutes at London we weren’t at the races.

“Our attitude was good last Sunday. I thought Sheffield had a really good dig at us and we knew they would.

“We lost two big players early on - Richard Moore and Scott Wheeldon - and they couldn’t go back on so we had to rotate our middles one by one on the bench and they had a big say in the game and performed really well.

“It was good to get the two points ahead of a huge game at Leigh.”

Luke Briscoe supplied one of the highlights last Sunday with a magnificent try-saving tackle on Sheffield’s Jake Spedding late in the game.

“Luke’s been fantastic. He’s had a good pre-season and he’s been really consistent every week,” said Duffy.

“His tackle on Spedding was outstanding. He probably ran 80 metres and for him to think of doing a one-on-one ball strip as well as he got there just before the try line was a phenomenal effort.”

Duffy switched Anthony Thackeray to centre last Sunday in place of injured Misi Taulapapa with skipper Ian Hardman reverting to full-back.

“We were without Misi so we used Anthony at centre and I thought he was superb in both attack and defence,” he added.

“Obviously, he has played full-back as well for us but he can slot in anywhere with his speed and quality.

“Ian Hardman is just solid at the back. He is understanding a lot more now the attacking role I want from him.

“They can both fit in anywhere. They do it at training so it’s not something new if they swap positions during a game.”

Duffy was also pleased with the form of two-try winger Shaun Robinson, forwards Brad Knowles and Sam Brooks and half-backs Martyn Ridyard and Tom Holmes.

He added: “Robbo (Shaun Robinson) was touch and go last week so it was good to get him back out there and get 80 minutes under his belt. He could obviously do with that going into next week. He’s happy and he’s pulled up fine.

“I thought Bradley Knowles was superb and aggressive when he came off the bench. He put in some big minutes. Sam Brooks backed up last week after being really good at London.

“Our half-backs (Ridyard and Holmes) are still a little bit inconsistent but when they go at the line they create some doubt and I don’t think there’s anyone better than the two I’ve got.”