Rovers coach wary of Keighley threat

John Bastian
John Bastian

Featherstone Rovers will aim to maintain their 100 per cent home record under coach John Bastian in tonight’s (Friday) Kingstone Press Championship clash against Keighley Cougars (7.45pm kick-off).

Since Bastian took charge, Featherstone have won four pre-season games, three league matches and a Challenge Cup tie at Big Fellas Stadium but the Rovers boss is wary of the threat posed by Keighley, who were pipped 28-26 by unbeaten leaders Leigh last month.

“Keighley have put in some good showings this year and come up with some good results,” he said.

“They were very unfortunate not to win against Leigh and it was only in the last 30 seconds Leigh nicked the game. They are certainly a team that we know will be a real threat to us.

“We won’t be taking them lightly. We will give them the upmost respect and we know we’ll have to be very good again this week, after a short turnaround, to claim the three points.

“Our home form is something we pride ourselves on. We want to do well on the road as well but certainly at home in front of our own supporters we want to make sure we put on a real performance.”

With no injuries from last Sunday’s win at Barrow, Bastian has virtually a full strength squad to choose from.

Prop Liam Walmsley (broken arm) is getting closer to returning.

“There were a few bumps and bruises at Barrow but we came out of it unscathed and I am really pleased about that,” said Bastian.

“Liam Walmsley is working hard. It was a nasty break and he had to have it reset and plated but he has a wonderful work ethic and hopefully we’ll have him back out on the training paddock and playing again within the next month to six weeks.”

Bastian was pleased with Featherstone’s display in the 38-18 victory at Barrow.

“We had to deal with the conditions, certainly in the first-half. We talked about tidying our game up a fair bit and making sure we controlled the ball and got to the end of our sets and we tried to get as much field position as we could due to the gale force wind that was blowing off the Irish Sea,” he said.

“Usually we like to be a bit more expansive but I certainly think it was the right thing for us to do in the first-half. We managed to get a couple of tries on the board but in fairness to Barrow we knew they would react this week. Bobbie Goulding has got them firing a little bit and they came up with a couple of tries which were a bit soft from us. I’d expect us to deal with that on another day.

“In the second-half, we talked about getting the ball wider and quicker and getting some good field position off the back of that with some smart kicks.

“I always thought we could explode and score points in the second-half and that’s the way it panned out. I was delighted with the lads and the way they conducted themselves in that game and also with our preparation.

“There’s a real togetherness now, it’s very evident. They are certainly getting closer as a group and all pulling in the right direction so it was a very good day and a very good result for us.

“We can improve. We gave away a couple of soft tries and we want to be better than that this week against Keighley.”