Lions coach Rooney: We’ve every chance of pulling off Challenge Cup upset

Lions coach Jamie Rooney: " If they play like I know they can play we've every chance."
Lions coach Jamie Rooney: " If they play like I know they can play we've every chance."

Coach Jamie Rooney believes Featherstone Lions are capable of reaching the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fourth round for the second successive season when they host League One’s South Wales Scorpions on Saturday (3pm).

National Conference League Division One side Lions, the lowest ranked side left in this year’s competition, lost 58-8 to York City Knights in the fourth round at Featherstone Rovers’ Big Fellas Stadium 12 months ago.

Saturday’s third round tie is at the amateur club’s Mill Pond Stadium and Rooney feels that will be an advantage.

“I am very happy the game is at our ground. Our lads are not used to playing on a pitch as big as the one at Rovers,” said Rooney.

“I am more confident with it being playing at Lions than I would have been at Rovers. I think last season when we played York the lads seemed a bit overawed.

“If our boys listen to what’s been said in training this week and take it out on the field on Saturday and play like I know they can play we’ve every chance.

“I’m sure they will do that because we’ve a very good squad. If everyone plays to the best of their ability on Saturday I’m sure we’ll either win or we’ll go close and I’m sure South Wales will know they’ve been in a game.

“York proved they were one of the top teams in League One last year and they blew us off the park.

“Hopefully, our lads have learned from that and I certainly learned from it from a coach’s point of view so we’ll be looking to do things a little bit differently this week in training and hopefully the lads will be ready.

“In the first two rounds it was a workmanlike team effort and basically we’ve just found a way to win.

“We haven’t been at our best so I’m looking for a massive improvement this Saturday because we are going to have to up our game if we are to win.”

Lions are without brothers Danny and Scott Glassell who are suspended after being sent off in a pre-season match against Featherstone Rovers.

Rooney added: “Other than the two Glassells, we are at full strength. There are a few selection headaches this week but they are good headaches. We have a few players coming back and in these type of games you need your best 17 out there.

“There will be a few disappointed lads but it’s a squad effort this year and the players who aren’t picked will be backing the others 100 per cent.

“The Glassells are two players we will miss because they are very good players but we have a big squad and I’m sure the lads who come in will do a good job for us.”

Former Featherstone Rovers and Wakefield Wildcats star Rooney played for South Wales in 2012.

“I had a few months at South Wales but the travel got the better of me in the end,” he added.

“They were struggling at the time and they have been for the last few years but I played alongside their current head coach Phil Carleton. I know they won’t stop trying and they will give 110 per cent so we are going to be on our game for the full 80 minutes if we are going to get anything out of the game.”

Admission on Saturday is £5 adults and £3 concessions.

Lions team manager Keith Bell said: “We know it will be a tough encounter but we are quietly confident of pulling off a shock victory on our own ground.

“Lions would like to thank Featherstone Rovers for all their help in trying to stage the game and their ongoing support.”

NCL Premier Division side Lock Lane will also be looking to pull off a giant-killing act on Sunday when they visit League One Oxford in the third round at Maidenhead RFC (2.30pm).

Lane stormed through to the third round for the first time since 2011 with an impressive 40-6 win at Shaw Cross Sharks.