FEATHERSTONE Rovers are determined to learn lessons from their seaside drubbing against Halifax 12 months ago when they face Championship top-four rivals London Broncos at the Summer Bash on Saturday (4.45pm kick-off).
Rovers were trounced 37-0 by Halifax after making a dreadful start to last season’s one-sided clash at Blackpool FC’s Bloomfield Road ground.
“It’s the biggest disappointment since I’ve been back to the club,” said Rovers coach Jon Sharp.
“We’ve got to learn lessons from that and understand that Blackpool is a different occasion. We were prepared last year but looked a bit uptight so we have to learn from that and handle the occasion better than we did last year.”
Sharp is relishing this weekend’s game against London who are just two points behind second-placed Rovers in the table.
Both teams are bang in form. Featherstone have won their last six games and the Broncos their last five including a 56-12 victory at Bradford last Sunday.
London have been strengthened by the return of injured players since their last defeat which was 38-18 at Featherstone early last month.
“It’s a massive game. In the context of rugby league, I think Summer Bash is a great innovation anyway,” added Sharp.
“To be playing a team that’s just two points behind us and gunning for a top-four spot just adds to the magnitude of the game.
“The fixture people have certainly got this one right. I think it’s going to be a super game. Both teams are playing really well.
“London are scoring points for fun so for us it’s going a be a really big defensive challenge.
“They started the year with a few injuries but they are more or less playing with a full squad now so it’s definitely going to be a test for us.
“We’ll be looking to maintain our momentum. We are playing really well and we just need to keep that up. We are full of confidence and fit and healthy and looking forward to the challenge.”
Sharp was delighted with his side’s performance against Dewsbury last weekend which followed the Challenge Cup win against Halifax.
“The attitude was fantastic,” he said.
“Obviously, we’d had a really big game the previous week and there’s always a danger that the players weren’t quite going to reach the heights of the week before but their attitude was excellent.
“I sensed in training during the week they were ready to go again and back it up and they certainly did. They were great.
“They played some really good stuff and scored some really good tries.
“We got to 18-4 up and that’s probably a danger period when you sit back a little bit but we ended up finishing the half with a flurry of tries and going in at half-time 32-4 ahead and with the game in the bag.
“Going uphill in the second-half, we still had a dig at them and continued in the same vein so I was highly delighted with the attitude and the application of the players.”
Misi Taulapapa had probably his best game this season for Featherstone last Saturday.
The former Samoan international, who missed the start of the season because of a visa issue, started on the wing against Dewsbury and was then switched to centre.
Said Sharp: “I think Misi is improving every game. The errors he had in his game early on are starting to go and he’s growing in confidence.
“Spending time back in the centre last Saturday I thought he showed what a great attacking centre he is.
“He wins penalties and wins rucks and gets the team on a roll. I’m really pleased with him.”
Sharp also praised two-try winger Scott Turner’s finishing.
“His agility, flexibility and skill when he finished in the far corner was something to behold and something we watched half a dozen times in review,” added the Rovers boss.
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