Rovers aim to boost top-four bid

Jon Sharp: "Oldham can play some really good football."
Jon Sharp: "Oldham can play some really good football."

Featherstone Rovers will aim to step up their Championship top-four challenge at Oldham on Sunday.

Despite narrow defeats against Leigh and Halifax in their last two home league fixtures, Rovers are still well placed in fifth spot, just one point behind Batley Bulldogs with a match in hand.

The top four teams all meet this Sunday. Batley visit leaders Leigh Centurions and second-placed London Broncos host third-placed Bradford .

After playing Oldham, Featherstone visit Whitehaven in a re-arranged match the following Saturday so the next two weeks could be an excellent opportunity for them to climb into the top four.

They will be seeking their first league double this season on Sunday after beating Oldham 20-6 at Big Fellas Stadium in February.

Promoted Oldham are second bottom in the table but Rovers coach Jon Sharp will certainly not underestimate them.

Since losing at Featherstone, Oldham have pulled off several surprise wins including a stunning Challenge Cup fifth round victory at Super League outfit Hull Kingston Rovers.

“Oldham can play some really good football and they have lots of good structure to their attacking play,” said Sharp.

“They have recently beaten Batley, Sheffield and Hull KR and that’s an amazing run of form so we know we are coming up against a team who are in form.

“It’s going to be a tough game and we are ready for it.”

Sharp was pleased with his depleted side’s performance last weekend against table-toppers Leigh in a match Rovers could have won had they snapped up their chances.

“Despite the adversity we’ve had with injuries, we are still in there and we are playing well,” he said.

“We had eight players out and we went with a scratch team last Sunday but we had a real dig against a side that probably cost more than a million pounds more than ours.”

Trailing 22-8 at half-time, Rovers levelled matters mid-way through the second-half and although Leigh then regained the lead, Sharp’s men had chances to snatch at least a draw in the closing stages

“I thought we were the better team. If we had taken our chances we could have won it.

“We were massively down on troops but the people that played were brilliant.

“It’s testimony to the players and the coaches and the hard work they put in that we are competing against such good teams as Leigh,” added Sharp.

Featherstone’s off-season recruitment has proved remarkably successful and players such as Misi Taulapapa, Darrell Griffin, John Davies and Anthony Thackeray were all outstanding last Sunday.

Sharp was delighted with Griffin’s display.

“Griffin had his best game for the club. In fact, it was the best I’ve seen him play for a few years,” said the Rovers boss who also heaped praise on Featherstone’s supporters.

“The fans have been absolutely brilliant this season. They’ve been right behind the team every step of the way,” he added.

“For me, the fans are part of the squad. They knew we were going to field a team last Sunday that didn’t contain probably seven starters but they still came along and got behind the boys.

“I just see the club building nicely and I’m really pleased with the relationship we have with the fans.”

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