Coach Jon Sharp believes Featherstone Rovers are a “different proposition” to the team that lost twice at home last season to Sunday’s opponents Dewsbury.
The Rams won 32-30 at Big Fellas Stadium last July in Andy Hay’s final game as Rovers coach and they came out on top 34-16 when the teams met again in the Championship Shield in September.
Dewsbury visit Featherstone this weekend sitting fourth in the table after winning three of their first four matches.
“Dewsbury were too good for us last season but we are a different proposition. We are a better team than last year’s side,” said Sharp.
“We expect to play better than we did then. We have some high expectations of ourselves and we are confident we can play well.”
Sharp was pleased with Featherstone’s display against Oldham last weekend but he said they “now have to focus on fine-tuning our attack.”
He believes the attack will improve as the season progresses and also when they sign a hooker to replace long-term casualty Matty Wildie who is out for the season .
“With the new players we have in the team it takes times to gel and I think just spending a bit more time on the field playing together will improve us,” he said.
“The team is only three games old and it’s just a matter of getting out on the field and playing.
“We are playing without a recognised number nine. We are playing with a full-back at hooker. Danny Craven is a good footballer but he’ll admit himself, he is not a nine.
“Filling the nine role is really important. I think that’s top of the agenda.
“To improve our attack we need a recognised nine in there. We are working hard to find one and in the next week we hope to make an announcement.”
Sharp will field a similar team against Dewsbury to the one that beat Oldham 20-6.
Rovers are still without Steve Snitch who is set to return to full training next week after minor knee surgery.
“The team will probably be unchanged. I might make a change on the bench but that will probably be about it and that will be good for us,” said Sharp.
“We will have a settled team. I think we should be about right with the team we had last week.
“I was pleased with the guys who came in against Oldham - Cording, Roche and Johnson.”
Sharp was delighted to restrict Oldham to one try.
He said: “We played against an Oldham team who had scored 56 points against Leigh and Dewsbury. To keep Oldham to a solitary try and defend like we did is really pleasing. I think it’s a really good sign.
“We were conceding an average of 25 points a game last year and we are currently at 13 points this season.
“When Leigh won the competition last year I think they conceded an average of 14 points a game for the season so it’s very encouraging for us.
“I thought we made some improvements attacking wise against Oldham. We are still not quite where we want to be at but we did improve.”
Featherstone’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fourth round tie at London Broncos will be played on saturday, March 19 (8pm).
Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners: O Moore (Y2176), A Smith (G00252), K Wood (D1201), T Evans (A4068), B Pollard (C3602). £5 prizes: M Briscoe (V2411), I Mason (V0441).