Rovers boss looks for better start and improved defence

PROP Matt James is set to make his Rovers debut against Castleford on Sunday.
PROP Matt James is set to make his Rovers debut against Castleford on Sunday.

FEATHERSTONE coach Daryl Powell is looking for an improved defensive display in Sunday’s game at Castleford.

The Rovers boss also wants his team to start the match far better than they did at Wakefield last Sunday when they trailed 28-0 at half-time after conceding five first-half tries.

“I am looking for us to improve defensively across the board. We need to manage tackles better and work together better,” he said.

“I think we also need to start the game more confidently and that’s something we didn’t do against Wakefield.

“We need to start the match well and build a game for ourselves.

“We just conceded too much in the first-half at Wakefield and we didn’t give ourselves a chance to be in the game at any point.

“As good as Wakefield were, we just allowed them to dictate the pace of the game and it’s pretty important we learn some early lessons about ourselves as a group and where we need to improve. It was a good experience for everyone in learning things about ourselves.”

Powell is hoping for a keenly-contested match at Wish Communications Stadium this weekend.

“I would like to think it will be a competitive game at Castleford. I was hoping for that at Wakefield but we only got 40 minutes of competitiveness. I would like us to stretch that and put Castleford under some pressure,” he added.

“Obviously, they have some outstanding players who can really open you up if you are not spot on defensively so we are looking to improve.

“I thought we responded well in the second-half at Wakefield. We started defending a bit tougher and playing a bit more expansively with the ball to apply some pressure to Wakefield. But the damage had been done and defensively the first-half was terrible.”

Prop Matt James, signed on a two-year contract from Wakefield, is set to make his Rovers debut on Sunday after undergoing minor knee surgery.

Winger Tom Hodson is also poised to return after missing the Wakefield match with a slight hamstring injury but there is still a doubt about Tommy Saxton (back injury).

“I am hoping Matt James is going to be okay and Tom Hodson should potentially be available but I’m not sure about Tommy Saxton,” said Powell.

“Hopefully, Matt James will be able to take the field and get out with the boys and pick up how we play the game in action.

“I will make a few changes to the team that played at Wakefield but not that many. Everyone needs an opportunity to play at this stage of he pre-season. We need to stiffen up certain elements of our line up but we’ve still got Sam Smeaton, Tim Spears and Mick Haley unavailable so there are some people who won’t be able to slot in there.”

Featherstone host Castleford Tigers in an under 19s pre-season match on Saturday (2.30pm). Admission is £3 adults and £1 concessions and children.

This week’s £500 Rovers lottery winners are D Robinson (I1090), T Robinson (F0604), J Dolan (E2939), P Woolly (K4607), M Green (F1313).