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Testing month for Featherstone Rovers’ ambitions

Jordan Lilley, who was on dual-reg duty for Featherstone Rovers against Batley. Picture: Dec Hayes
Jordan Lilley, who was on dual-reg duty for Featherstone Rovers against Batley. Picture: Dec Hayes

Featherstone Rovers are gearing up for a testing month that will go a long way to determining their ambitions this season.

May heralds an exciting spell with matches against promotion rivals Toulouse, Leigh Centurions and Halifax as well as a Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie against Hull FC at the LD Nutrition Stadium.

It is not quite make or break with Rovers going into the matches in second place in the Betfred Championship, six points ahead of Leigh in fifth place and only one point behind leaders Toronto, but the importance of the matches is clear to head coach John Duffy.

He said: “We’ve got a massive month now, made even tougher by the Challenge Cup draw.

“We’ve got to make sure we don’t take our eye off the ball and we are we need to be at the end of the month.”

The first of the tough games brings a travel to France on Saturday (kick-off 3.30pm) to play a Toulouse side that would leapfrog Featherstone into second place if they win.

Rovers will be looking to complete a double after beating the French side 36-18 at the LD Nutrition Stadium back in February, but Rovers boss Duffy is expecting a tougher game this time round.

He said: “Toulouse have had a massive win at Swinton. They’ve got some players back from when we played them earlier in the year. They’ve got some real dangerous players and I’m sure they will want to turn us over.”

Rovers go into the match on the back of one of their best displays of the season as they hammered Batley Bulldogs 50-12 and Duffy praised his players for the way they responded after their disappointing display at Doncaster the week before.

He also had words of praise for impressive forward Gareth Hock and Tom Holmes, who successfully switched from half-back to full-back.

He added: “It was just what we were looking for after we were unhappy with our performance last week.

“Gareth Hock has got better each time he’s played for us.

“We obviously rested him last week in the cup game. He came on and made a massive difference, scoring a cracking try.

“Tom Holmes was probably a bit frustrated with his game in recent weeks playing at pivot so it just gave him a bit of freedom playing at full-back. A bit more time to run the ball and I thought he took it with both hands. He was real dangerous with the ball in hand.”

Duffy will check with Leeds on which dual-registration players he can include for the Toulouse trip after having Jordan Lilley, Josh Walters and Nathaniel Peteru last week.

Impressive centre Harry Newman was unable to play, however, after picking up an injury.

Featherstone Rovers lottery winners for week 31:

Monday: N0736 A Coomber £500

Tuesday: Q4001 J Gardner £500

Wednesday: E3755 R Oldroyd £500

Thursday: L6965 J Long £500

Friday: O1259 M Dunne £5,000