Rovers coach: Another close clash on cards at Batley

Jon Sharp
Jon Sharp

Featherstone coach Jon Sharp expects another nail-biting finish in Sunday’s Championship game at top-four rivals Batley Bulldogs.

After narrowly beating Halifax and Oldham, Rovers will aim to maintain their 100 per cent start this season against the team that finished one place above them in the table last year.

Both sides recorded two victories in last season’s four meetings, with Batley winning 11-10 at Mount Pleasant in the Super Eights in September in the last encounter.

Sharp is preparing his side to face similar conditions this weekend to the mudbath they overcame against Oldham last Sunday.

“It’s going to be really, really tight again this Sunday. We are expecting it to go down to the wire. I think there’s only going to be a couple of points in it,” he said.

“The two games we’ve had so far have proved our team are capable of handling it. We’ve got composure and winning tight games is a good habit to have.

“Looking at Batley’s game against Halifax last Sunday, it’s going to be another quagmire. We’ve got to get ready for that and accept that is how it’s going to be.

“I thought we played the conditions reasonably well last weekend. I was disappointed with a couple of errors and some stupid penalties but individuals have got to learn that field position is crucial.”

Batley, under new head coach Matt Diskin, bounced back from losing their opening game 44-6 at Toulouse Olympique by beating Halifax 24-6 at home last Sunday when their try scorers included ex-Featherstone players Sam Smeaton and Dane Manning.

Sharp said he isn’t worried about having to contend with the notorious Mount Pleasant slope this weekend.

“To be honest, we don’t worry too much about that,” he added.

“It doesn’t come into our thinking when we set the team up. It’s not the be all and end all for us.

“We’ve played uphill against them last year and beat them and scored more points than them so that’s not an issue for us.”

Featherstone’s Michael Knowles (dead leg) and Scott Turner (back injury) are set to be available this weekend after missing the first two games and Frankie Mariano returns after completing a one-match suspension.

Richard Moore (quad) will be sidelined for a further two weeks.

Rovers are still without newly-appointed first-team captain Misi Taulapapa who is awaiting visa clearance. Sharp described it as a ‘slow burner.’