Rovers coach: We need to go up another level at Halifax

Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "There's no room for error for any team now, with four sides fighting for the two places." Picture: Carol Austerberry.
Rovers coach Jon Sharp: "There's no room for error for any team now, with four sides fighting for the two places." Picture: Carol Austerberry.

Coach Jon Sharp is preparing Featherstone for a “semi-final” at Halifax on Sunday as Rovers aim to stay in the hunt for a Championship top-four place.

With two games remaining in the regular season, Leigh and London have clinched the top two places but just one point separates Halifax, Batley, Bradford and Featherstone who are vying for third and fourth spots

Featherstone have lost twice to Halifax this season - a last-gasp 20-19 home defeat and a 37-0 trouncing at Blackpool’s Summer Bash - but they will be buoyed by their excellent display in last Sunday’s 34-6 win at Batley.

“It’s as tight as it could be and there’s no room for error for any team now, with four sides fighting for the two places,” said Sharp.

“It was a quarter-final for us at Batley and we won that. Now we are in the semi-final against Halifax.

“Halifax seem to be the bogey team for us this year but I thought we were unlucky with the touch judge call when they kicked the penalty goal in the 80th minute at Featherstone.

“That touch judge missed several offsides and came up with a big call with 30 seconds to go. I thought it was a monumental decision by him that I still find hard to take.

“I know Halifax are a really good side and they proved that at Blackpool. We were shocking that day but I’m trying not to spend too much time thinking about that game and just focusing on what is really a semi-final for us this Sunday.

“What has gone off in the past has been done and it’s now very much about getting ready to play semi-final football.

“I really rate Batley and I think they are a very good team and if I say we’ve got to raise the bar then it is almost derisory to Batley but I do think we need to go up another level because I think Halifax are capable of it as well.

“On the whole, both teams should be confident. I know Halifax have lost only one of their last eight so they are obviously in good form and we are peaking at the right time as well.

“In the last two games, we’ve been excellent with the ball and we know we’ve probably come up with one of the best performances of the season leading into this so that should give us confidence.”

Sharp was delighted with his side’s performance at Mount Pleasant last Sunday and with the continued excellent form of half-backs Anthony Thackeray and Kyle Briggs.

He was also pleased with Steve Snitch’s display in only his third appearance this season. Snitch started in the second-row and switched to centre following Jamie Cording’s first-half injury.

“It will definitely be among our top-five performances this season,” said Sharp.

“I thought they executed the game plan really well. They were really focused on what I am wanted them to do and how I wanted them to go about it. They did it extremely well.

“The defence has been good all year. I think it gets ignored by a lot people the significance of having a good defence. Stats show we’ve the best defence in the competition so it gives us a lot of confidence if we aren’t completing as well as we should do. If we make errors, we know we can defend them.

“I was really pleased with both our halves. I think they’ve only played about seven or eight times together this year and that’s not been week in, week out. They are now starting to get used to one another and starting to look smooth.”

Rovers overcame the absence of Colton Roche and Jamie Foster who pulled out on the morning of the match.

Said Sharp: “I’ve never known a season like it when players have pulled out on the day of games or for other circumstances that stopped players from playing.

“We had some adversity last Sunday which led to juggling of positions but it seems we’ve been doing that all year.

“Disaster then struck when we lost Cording in the first-half. He was probably the one player we couldn’t afford to lose because we had no other cover in the backs. Cording was exactly the cover.

“When we lost him, Snitch had to play centre and did a really good job for us. It was easily his best game for us this season. He’s 100 per cent now and I thought we saw a bit more of the things he can do at Batley.

“I was also really pleased with Luke Cooper and chuffed to bits for him. He’s had to be patient and when he’s played he’s done really well. He keeps improving and he’s certainly one for the future for the club.

“I’m pleased with the development of the younger players.

“We’ve seen Jack Ormondroyd, Cooper, Kyran Johnson and Bradley Tagg come on leaps and bounds. The team is doing well and we are also developing our youngsters as well.”

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