Featherstone Rovers coach: Lions will be buoyed by changes

Martyn Ridyard lines up a kick on his return to the Featherstone Rovers side against Dewsbury Rams. Picture: Rob Hare
Martyn Ridyard lines up a kick on his return to the Featherstone Rovers side against Dewsbury Rams. Picture: Rob Hare

Swinton Lions will provide Featherstone Rovers with an even tougher test this weekend following the vote to change the league structures at last week’s Emergency General Meeting.

That is the view of Featherstone head coach John Duffy.

Rovers travel to a Swinton outfit on Sunday who know that survival in the Championship is now within reach.

The soon-to-be-defunct Super 8s system would have seen Swinton and Rochdale Hornets relegated to League One at the end of the campaign.

But a vote to scrap the Super 8s at last week’s EGM means that the second-bottom side in the Championship will be guaranteed safety as the division is set to expand to 14 teams in 2019.

“They will be up for it, because it is life and death for them,” said Duffy.

“But it is for us as well because we need the home tie for the final.

“It makes for a cracking game but we have got to make sure we change our attitude (from the Dewsbury game).

“We need to go there with a real tough attitude and defend for our lives.”

Duffy feels his side will be in for a difficult afternoon at Heywood Road and that they must improve on their performance against Dewsbury Rams last Sunday.

Rovers triumphed by 12 points in a back-and-forth contest but eventually edged clear in the closing moments to stretch their winning run to six games.

“We need to go there with the right attitude because I don’t think our attitude was on it against Dewsbury and we have got to make sure we are on it this week,” Duffy continued.

“It was really scrappy from us. We had a little bit of disruption before the game trying to get players over with the motorway closed.

“Some players only got here half way through the warm up.

“I only got here late myself but that shouldn’t hinder us in any way, we are professional enough to deal with stuff like that.

“I think we started really slow and I thought my edges were good in defence but my middle unit was really poor.

“It was just try for try and it wasn’t good enough.

“And that amount of points conceded at home isn’t good enough, especially when we have a final coming up in a few weeks.”

One big positive that Duffy did take from the contest was the return of Martyn Ridyard.

The stand-off was playing in his first game since May and the Rovers boss was delighted to see him back on the field.

He added: “I thought Martyn Ridyard was exceptional when he came on.

“He has been chomping at the bit for weeks but we had to get the all clear from the surgeon.

“He is a big player for us, and you can tell when he has his hand on the ball, he is just a different class.

“I am glad he got out there and got some minutes in, we didn’t want to give him that many minutes to be fair but he put his hand up to play.”