Rovers coach: We’ll need an 80-minute performance against Halifax

Rovers will be checking on the fitness of Thomas Minns who missed last Sunday's match against Batley. Picture: Paul Butterfield.
Rovers will be checking on the fitness of Thomas Minns who missed last Sunday's match against Batley. Picture: Paul Butterfield.

Coach Andy Hay says Featherstone will have to be at their best if they are to complete a Championship double over old rivals Halifax at Big Fellas Stadium on Saturday (6pm).

Featherstone’s three victories over Fax last year included what was labelled the “£250k” match when they pipped them for second place and the extra prize money.

Saturday’s clash is again vitally important with both teams vying for the top-four.

Fax are just two points behind fifth-placed Rovers, who have won five of their last six league matches.

“I know there has been a fierce rivalry between Rovers and Halifax going back six or seven years with play-off matches and everything else,” said Hay.

“Halifax are playing well and you can see their style has changed over the course of this season.

“They are playing some open stuff and they’ve got a decent team. I’m sure it will be a tough game and I’m sure they are going to turn up fully committed and we need to be as well.

“Tommy Saxton is still playing well so we’ll have to keep an eye on him. Their two back rowers, Ross Divorty and Dane Manning, go well for them as well.

“We know they are a good side and we will need to be at our best to make sure we get the points.

“When we played them last season they were calling it the £250k game and there was a lot of pressure on both teams and this Saturday’s match could go a long way towards moving us away from Halifax and keeping us in the race for the top-four.

“We have a team who can play and we just need to have the concentration, focus and desire to put in an 80-minute performance. It’s going to be a tough task but it’s good to be at home again and I think the boys will be a lot more settled this week.”

Rovers’ form at Big Fellas Stadium has improved since earlier this season when they lost successive home games against Leigh, Bradford, London and Sheffield.

“We played the big two teams in our first two home games. There are no excuses but we didn’t have our squad together and we were still coming together as a group. It maybe didn’t help us having those early home fixtures,” added Hay.

“We’ve put a good run together in away games and we’ve put some points on the board in our last two home matches.”

Jack Bussey, Tim Spears, Alex Foster, Thomas Minns, Remy Marginet, Nathan Chappell and Garreth Carvell all missed last Sunday’s match against Batley.

Hay said: “Marginet pulled up in training on Saturday morning with an ankle injury.

“He was still wanting to play but I can’t carry players into games when they are injured, especially in key positions. He was a 50-50 and so was Thomas Minns.

“We can change the team around and we’ve got a squad now where we’ve got players who can play different positions and we don’t necessarily need to play players if they are injured, at this stage of the year anyway.

“Jack Bussey and Tim Spears both had a run out on Monday night so we’ll have a look at them again before we finalise the team later this week.

“Alex Foster is looking good but I think Nathan Chappell will be a little bit more long term with a knee ligament strain. It will may be another week or two.

“Garreth Carvell was rested last weekend because I wanted to bring in Jack Ormondroyd and give him a run.

“I wanted to give some players some more game time and I thought Jack took his chance well.”

Featherstone are without suspended forwards Paul Wood and Reni Maitua on Saturday but could hand a debut to new signing Paul Cooke, the former Hull FC, Hull KR, Wakefield and Doncaster playmaker.

Meanwhile, Rovers team boss Hay was disappointed with his side’s second-half display in last Sunday’s 44-16 win against Batley after his side led 34-0 at half-time.

“We played fairly well in the first-half and kept our discipline. We also controlled the ball well and it blew Batley away and they couldn’t handle it,” he said.

“In the second-half, we went away from all that.

“ We probably came out a little bit more relaxed and maybe thought we’d got the job done.

“Batley didn’t give up and that made it more difficult and I think that’s when the frustration creeps in and the penalties come on the back of that

“There was a bit of indiscipline and a bit of frustration at the way we were playing.

“I don’t think we were at our best and sometimes when you are like that you get very frustrated.

“There were some good performances.Paul Sykes scored his four tries and it was an excellent game from him. Jack Ormondroyd had a good game, Ryan Verlinden is getting better and Reni Maitua also played well on his home debut.”

Gate admission prices for Saturday’s match against Halifax are £18 adults, £12 concessions and £5 juniors.

Featherstone’s Big Fellas Stadium will host the League One fixture between York City Knights and Rochdale Hornets this Sunday (3pm kick-off).

There will be a designated gate for Featherstone Rovers fans where season tickets holders and people with a match ticket stub from Featherstone’s match against Halifax on Saturday can watch the game for only £5.

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