Rovers aim to repeat last season’s impressive home record

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "We made it a fortress last season and that's our intention again this year."
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "We made it a fortress last season and that's our intention again this year."

Featherstone coach Jon Sharp again wants to make Big Fellas Stadium a fortress this season.

Last year’s outstanding home form was a major reason why Rovers finished in the Championship’s top four and Sharp is looking for the same again ahead of Sunday’s first home league fixture against Oldham.

“We won nine out of 11 home league games last season,” he said.

“The only defeats were against Halifax with a penalty in the last seconds - and it’s well documented what I thought about that - and when we were pipped by Leigh.

“We made it a fortress last season and that’s our intention again this year.”

The Rovers boss was pleased with last Sunday’s thrilling 32-26 win at Halifax but he wants an 80-minute performance and a reduction in the error count against Oldham who also started the season impressively by beating Sheffield Eagles 26-10.

“We had two real tussles with Oldham last season. We lost at their place and they were really good that day,” he added.

“They came up with a good win against Sheffield last Sunday and I’m sure they are going to be really confident.

“I’m expecting more than a 60-minute performance from us - I think that’s important.

“We can’t have passages in a game where it goes against us so long like it did last weekend. We also need to tidy up on some dumb penalties .

“I’m trying to encourage the players to play so completion rates aren’t something we are going to live and die by but eventually they will get you if you keep coming up with errors.”

Sharp was pleased with his side’s battling qualities in the win at Halifax.

“The first-half half hour was absolutely outstanding,” he said.

“We then slipped a little bit and allowed them back into the game. It was a disappointing middle phase of the game for us but we managed to correct that and finish the game off really strongly.

“I thought we looked composed and we looked calm and we were dogged as well.

“When you lose the momentum it’s difficult to get it back but we hung in there and eventually the tide turned back in our favour.

“Although it was tight, I thought we looked the stronger team in the last 10 to 15 minutes.

“It was an outstanding match for the fans and a real good spectacle and advertisement for the game.

“I thought both teams were really good. I think Halifax are a top-four team and looking at that I think they are going to be right there in the mix. To win at their place is a great achievement for us.”

Sharp was pleased with the way his side responded from the setback of losing Richard Moore, Jay Walton and Scott Turner the day before the game.

“The challenge was already a big one but it was compounded by losing three players on Saturday morning which just threw all the plans into disarray,” he said.

“Again, we were composed and handled those changes really well.

“Blokes came in at the last minute and were outstanding particularly Josh Hardcastle who I thought was brilliant. With his first three touches, he was held up over the line, he scored a try and then with his third touch he put in Luke Briscoe for a try.”