Rovers aim to put top-four bid back on track

Rovers coach Andy Hay: "It will be good to be back at home."
Rovers coach Andy Hay: "It will be good to be back at home."

Featherstone Rovers have the chance to put their Championship top-four bid back on track with two successive home matches after slipping to fifth place with Sunday’s 31-12 defeat against Leigh.

They host Batley Bulldogs on Sunday and Halifax the following week and will aim to complete league doubles over both teams.

“It will be good to be back at home,” said Rovers coach Andy Hay.

“We’ve been on the road for a while and we’ve now got back-to-back home games so hopefully we can get the fans behind us again.

“Batley have had a bit of an up and down season but they are always tough games against them.

“We know they will come here needing a win after being turned over by Dewsbury last Sunday.

“Although we came off second best last weekend, there was some real desire from the boys. We’ve plenty of fighting spirit and I think that will now take us through the rest of the season.

“We are just outside the top four at the minute but we’ve got to play most of the teams around us again and most of those games are at home. We’ve got to starting picking up wins, starting with Sunday’s game.

“I thought we were building our game quite well in attack and defence but I just think we dropped off against Leigh last Sunday. We had plenty of ball in their end and we just need to play smarter.

“We are going to come up against some good teams and they include Batley who will be hard to break down and so will Halifax the week after.”

Rovers did not pick up any major injuries from the Summer Bash at Blackpool.

They will again be without Tim Spears (calf) this Sunday and Hay will also check on Jack Bussey, Nathan Chappell and Remy Marginet who missed the Leigh game.

“We hope Bussey will be fit but it may be touch and go for him this week. It will a late call on Nathan Chappell as well,” added Hay.

“Tim Spears won’t be right but Remy Marginet should be fine this week.

“Marginet has been struggling with an ankle injury. He’s been carrying it for a couple of weeks and he also took a knock in the cup match at Catalans. It was a call between him and Luke Teasdale last Sunday and I went with Teasdale.

“There are a lot of players pushing for spots and a lot of players who want to keep their places so it’s up to us to get things right now. Everyone needs to perform. We’ve said it before that we want the best team who can play and if we need to make changes we will.

“I think we’ll get some consistency going forward. We’ve had some tough away trips and hopefully we can get some form going back at home.”

Hay felt his players gave a “gutsy performance” last Sunday after prop Paul Wood was sent off in the 25th minute when the score was 6-6.

“We showed guts and determination but we didn’t play very smart,” he said.

“We know Leigh are a quality team but we thought we’d have a real crack at them and I don’t think we did.

“We had a lot of pressure on their line early on and we came up with one try but I thought we looked a bit panicky and edgy.

“ We didn’t really play how we wanted to play at their end of the field which was disappointing really.

“And obviously going a man down makes things difficult not just in defence but also in attack where you’ve got people out of position all the time and you are a number down in the middle.”

“The turning point for me in the first-half was when Gareth Hock swung out at Jordan Baldwinson and nothing was really got done about it. I felt some of our players wanted to take things into their own hands which never really works.

“I don’t think the referee managed the game very well.

“We got put off our game which Leigh tend to do to teams and we went away from a lot of the things we needed to do.

“We dropped far too much ball and you can’t play against teams like Leigh putting down as much ball as we did.”

Hay was pleased with Reni Maitua, Thomas Minns and Ian Hardman.

“It was probably the best Maitua has played for us. Thomas Minns had a very good game and Ian Hardman also played well for us.” he said.

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