Rovers ready for tough test at Batley

Etu Uaisele suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury. Picture: Bob Nunn.
Etu Uaisele suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury. Picture: Bob Nunn.

Featherstone Rovers will aim to continue their winning start under new head coach Andy Hay in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship clash against Batley Bulldogs.

After consolidating second spot in the table with successive home wins against Workington and Whitehaven, Rovers visit Batley for their first away match under Hay.

It will be the first meeting since last September’s Championship qualifying semi-final at Big Fellas Stadium when Batley recovered from 18-0 down to pip Rovers 21-20 with George Flanagan’s drop goal in the sixth minute of extra time.

Batley’s line-up that day also included Gareth Moore and both he and Flanagan are set to face their old club on Sunday after joining Featherstone in the close-season.

Last season’s beaten Grand Finalists Batley ended a four-match losing run with last weekend’s 33-18 win at Swinton Lions.

“I’ve been looking at Featherstone’s past results against Batley and they’ve been very close games over the last few years,” said Hay.

“I know John Kear (Batley coach) a little bit and he’ll have them pretty motivated so it will be a tough one for us again.

“I will have a look at Batley this week but we’ve got to concentrate on ourselves as well. We are now looking at making improvements week to week so if we can improve on last week’s performance we’ll be okay.”

Hay will check on centre Etu Uaisele who was taken off at half-time against Whitehaven last Sunday with a recurrence of a hamstring injury on his return after missing three matches.

Forwards Matty Dale (broken hand) and Andy Bostock (ankle) face late fitness tests.

Winger Tommy Saxton is unavailable this weekend. He returns to Featherstone next Monday after being recalled from his two-month loan spell at Halifax.

“Etu probably could have carried on against Whitehaven but he just felt it a bit in his hamstring so we brought him off as a precaution,” said Hay.

“He was getting worked on if we needed him to go back on but Jamie Cording slotted into his position at centre very well and James Lockwood in the back row was outstanding throughout the game so we didn’t miss Etu.

“We are just waiting for Andy Bostock and Matty Dale to be given the all clear and we’ll wait until Friday or Saturday with those two.”