Rovers coach ‘pretty pleased’ with progress

Jon Sharp: "I still think there's some improvement in us. We are not quite an 80 minute team yet."
Jon Sharp: "I still think there's some improvement in us. We are not quite an 80 minute team yet."

Coach Jon Sharp is ‘pretty pleased’ with the way Featherstone are playing ahead of Sunday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fifth round tie against Oldham at LD Nutrition Stadium.

He was happy the performances in both Easter matches against Hull Kingston Rovers and Bradford Bulls but he believes there is still more to come from his team.

It will be the second time Rovers have hosted Oldham this season. They scraped an 8-6 league victory on a mud-bath of a pitch in February.

“They gave is a tough game last time in dreadful conditions when the field was really heavy,” said Sharp.

“It looks like it will be a dry track this weekend and hopefully we can play some football.

“It’s a quick turnaround but we know we are in good form and we are looking forward to it.

“The Challenge Cup is important to us. We need to get a win and stay in the competition.

“From a financial point of view and the obligations we have for the club, I think it’s really important we try to get on a cup run.

“We are pretty pleased with what we are doing but we still have a fair way to go.

“I still think there’s some improvement in us. We are not quite an 80 minute team yet.

“We’ve got some challenges in front of us and some challenges set by the coach but we are going in the right direction.”

Sharp was delighted with his side’s first-half performance in the 44-18 win against Bradford after they built a 38-0 lead.

“I was really pleased with the win. I think that was the priority - it was always going to be a challenge in the second-half with the energy,” he added.

“I was ever so pleased with them on Friday. We went to Hull KR and played a really good team and were in the game right until the 80th minute.

“I knew the Bradford game would be a challenge. Second halves are not going to be great for a lot of teams in the second Easter game.

“Certainly for us in the second-half, it was a case of watching the clock and waiting for it to tick down but in the first-half we were absolutely outstanding with the tries, the skill and the football.

“I thought we continued from the way we played against Hull KR so I was really pleased with the Easter programme.

“Bradford made some changes and I know there were some late calls but I thought that helped them. They had a bit of speed in the halves and running threats.

“What we practised for and what we came up against were two different things so I felt we adjusted well to that.

“We understood what we needed to do to defend against them.

“While we had the energy, I thought attacking wise and the tries we scored were absolutely outstanding.

“The second-half went a little bit scratchy but credit to Bradford. I thought they had a dig and a really good tilt at us.

“I thought we lost our way a little bit with our direction but the boys all stuck together and kept battling away and that’s what they always do.

“I think the damage was done in the first 20 minutes when we scored roughly a point a minute and looked confident when we defended as well so to go in at half-time leading 38-0 I think says it all.

“I thought we were outstanding for 80 minutes against London and also outstanding at Hull KR. For the first 40 minutes against Bradford attacking-wise we were just about as good as we have been this year so the last two and a half games we’ve been red hot which we are pleased about.

“The game on Friday was enormous - it was a really big match - and the guys dusted themselves down and were ready to go again so thumbs up to the boys and the staff who have done a really good job with them.

“We are still in touch, joint second with Toulouse, so I am really pleased.”

Sharp praised the displays of prop Luke Cooper and hooker Keal Carlile against Bradford on Monday.

“Luke Cooper was really good at Hull KR,” he said.

“I thought he was man of the match against Bradford. He was absolutely outstanding and I thought he was the best player on the field.

“I am really pleased with him. He’s been patient and persevered.

“He does lots of extras and works hard at his game and he’s got his reward.

“I thought Keal Carlile was very good. He had probably his best game.

“I thought he looked sharp. He looked aggressive and was smart with his plays.

“I was really pleased with him and the combination with Matty Wildie which looks excellent.”

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