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Knights v Featherstone: Rovers ranks fired up to right wrongs
BOSS Daryl Powell reckons “fires are still burning” in the Featherstone ranks as they look to right the wrongs of defeat last time out.
Rovers’ 100 per cent winning start to the Kingstone Press Championship ended at Sheffield a fortnight ago, in a repeat of the surprise result on Grand Final day last season.
But their bid to bounce back was delayed as their match against Workington was snowed off, along with most other Championship games last Sunday.
Indeed, theirs is a similar scenario to York’s, the Knights having also been ultra-eager to make amends for their own shocker at Keighley only to see their match at Doncaster postponed.
Powell said: “We lost our previous game and we wanted to play last week and rectify the loss against Sheffield. We didn’t want to be putting our feet up. We’ve spoken about keeping those fires burning. Nobody likes losing and we still need to put that right.
“York will have their own ideas but it’s about us focusing on ourselves. It should involve a fair bit of intensity.”
Powell will be boosted by the return to fitness of Kyle Briggs and Matty Dale, while he is also poised to move Ian Hardman back to full-back, from centre, in place of Jonny Hepworth, who made a couple of costly mistakes against the Eagles.
Hepworth is nevertheless set to play on Bank Holiday Monday against Swinton, with Powell already planning to use his squad to the full over the Easter weekend, with only Sam Smeaton out injured going into the double-header. York counterpart Gary Thornton, conversely, is to decide his line-up for Monday after tomorrow’s game.
Powell: “On the benefit side of last week’s postponement, it’s given Matty and Kyle another week so they should be 100 per cent rather than 94 or 95 per cent.”
He added: “Guys who miss out (tomorrow) will play on Monday. It’s about using our squad to keep players fresh. A couple of young guys might go in on Monday as well.”
Featherstone in focus
Last year: 1st, Grand Final runners-up.
Current position: 2nd.
Coach: Daryl Powell.
Rovers have been the dominant force outside Super League for the last three years, backed by big bucks and with sights on a Super League licence. But the shock grand final loss to Sheffield last season (in addition to defeat in the Northern Rail Cup final) meant they have picked up only the one title in that time.
Lost inspirational skipper Stu Dickens (retirement), fellow prop Dom Maloney (Army) and Tangi Ropati (New Zealand), but remain potent in the pivots with Andy Ellis and Kyle Briggs signing permanent deals to join Andy Kain, Ben Kaye and Liam Finn, while the arrival of Lamont Bryan from London gave them another weapon. Consistently good on and off the field – they just need to turn regular season success into finals day triumph.
Squad for tomorrow: from Ian Hardman, Tom Hodson, Lamont Bryan, Greg Worthington, Tommy Saxton, Kyle Briggs, Liam Finn, Matt James, Andy Ellis, Anthony England, James Lockwood, Tim Spears, Andy Bostock, Steve Crossley, Jack Bussey, Matty Dale, Andy Kain, Ben Kaye.
One to watch: captain Liam Finn is seen by many as the best player in the division.
Partnership club: none.
Prediction: the team to beat again.
Ground: The Big Fellas Stadium (Post Office Road).
Miles from York: 31.
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