Rovers boss expects difficult test against Crusaders

Rovers captain Tim Spears in action in the win against Swinton Lions. Picture: Bob Nunn.
Rovers captain Tim Spears in action in the win against Swinton Lions. Picture: Bob Nunn.

Featherstone coach John Bastian will not underestimate North Wales Crusaders in Sunday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup fourth round tie at Big Fellas Stadium (2pm kick-off).

Rovers won 36-6 at Wrexham when the sides met in last month’s Kingstone Press Championship match but the Welsh outfit put up stern resistance in the first-half and were level at 6-6 at half-time.

“Crusaders are a dogged side who can play some rugby,” said Bastian.

“They put in some real effort against us in the first-half when we played them in Wales.

“ In the second-half, we hit our straps, similar to what we did last Sunday against Swinton when we played probably our best 40 minutes football of the season.

“It will be difficult this weekend. Clive Griffiths (Crusaders coach) is a competitive character and smart coach.

“Crusaders will be wanting to put on a display and we won’t be underestimating them.”

Bastian wants three-times Challenge Cup winners Rovers to make an impact in this season’s competition.

“It’s very important to us. It’s a prestigious competition and it’s a nice distraction from the league,” he added.

“It’s something that historically Featherstone are famous for and we are like other teams that have played in the colours of Rovers in the Challenge Cup - we want to do well in it and go as far as we can.”

Hookers Andy Ellis and George Flanagan will both be back in contention to face Crusaders after missing last Sunday’s game.

“We have looked after Andy Ellis - he’s had a bad virus and it knocked him sideways. We have been patient and not rushed him,” said Bastian.

“George got a bang on the head at Doncaster. He had double vision and it’s not worth taking any risks.”

Bastian was pleased with the performances of Andy Kain and 19-year-old debutant Luke Teasdale at hooker against Swinton.

“We put in Andy Kain at hooker and he did a great job for us. He’s been great in training and he’s doing the little things right that make a difference to him as a person and as a footballer. He is very focused,” he added

“Andy is a half - that’s his position - but he can play at nine and still be a real threat. I thought he did a really good job in that position.

“I was also delighted with young Luke Teadale and he is certainly one for the future.”

Bastian will be checking on Gavin Bennion (ribs) and Jamel Chisholm (knee) who were injured in the recent under 20s match against Halifax.

Bastian has allowed winger Tommy Saxton to spend a second month on loan at Championship rivals Halifax.

“I’m fine with that and it wouldn’t be fair on Tommy to come back,” he said.

“We have two outstanding wingers and they are both on top of their game.

“Etu Uaisele is only four games in and he’s going to get better and Will Sharp is playing some outstanding rugby league at the moment. He is enjoying himself and is full of confidence.”

Bastian was delighted with skipper Tim Spears’ display in Sunday’s 36-22 win against Swinton.

“I thought Tim Spears was great,” he said.

“He’s new to the captaincy this year but he’s an inspirational guy and he’s got some great qualities as a person.

“Tim leads by example in training and on the field. His effort on Sunday was second to none.”

The Rovers coach felt Swinton’s first-half performance underlined the competitiveness of this season’s Championship.

“Swinton played particularly well. There’s far more intensity in the competition this year and far more to play for, with the prizemoney, relegation and finishing in the top two. You can see it’s added some quality to the division, for sure,” he said.

Both Rovers and North Wales Crusaders have agreed to reduce admission prices for Sunday’s cup match and allow free admission for under 16s.

The admission is £13 adults, £8 concessions and under 16s free.

Rovers chief executive Craig Poskitt said: “I’d like to thank my counterpart Jamie Thomas at North Wales Crusaders for his co-operation in backing this initiative of letting under 16s in for free for this game and reducing our normal admission price.

“We recognise that with the game not included and a long trip to Barrow the following week, it is an expensive time for supporters.”

Meanwhile, Rovers have announced new commercial partnerships with Wentvalley Aggregates and Recycling Ltd and leading clothing retailer Dickies.

The two year agreement with Wentvalley Aggregates and Recycling will see their name appear on the front of the playing shorts in 2014 and 2015 as well as ground signage and corporate hospitality in the 1921 Suite. Wentvalley Aggregates and Recycling Ltd are based at Smeaton Industrial Park in Wentbridge and are suppliers of all quarried limestone products .

Russell Meakin, managing director of Wentvalley Aggregates and Recycling, said: “We are all excited about becoming a main commercial partner of Featherstone Rovers.

“They are our local team and it is great to see them growing off the field and striving for Super League.

“I’m a big rugby league fan and proud to see our logo on the Featherstone Rovers kit and I’m looking forward to attending as many games as possible, enjoying the hospitality and being involved with a growing club with big ambitions like ourselves.”

Rovers commercial manager Paul Taylor said: “Wentvalley Aggregates and Recycling join a strong portfolio of main commercial partners at the club.

“I am sure they will find their involvement in Featherstone Rovers rewarding and it is a great boost to the club. Russell is a keen rugby league supporter and his enthusiasm he will be bring will be an asset to Rovers.”

The commercial partnership with Dickies Castleford will see them promoted at the Big Fellas Stadium through perimeter advertising and through social media channels as well as Rovers members receiving a 10 per cent discount in store.

The Dickies store at Junction 32, Castleford, has helped the on-going development of the Railway End at the Big Fellas Stadium by donating hi-vis vests to the army of volunteers constructing the two stands.

Latest £500 Rovers lottery winners are T Chadwick (F5523), D Burke (O2494), K Johnson (A3188), T Oates (D3449), J Dunnill (A5144). £5 consolation prizes: B Harris, A Hodgson, A Nicholls.