Featherstone Rovers coach Daryl Powell says his side are ready for their Northern Rail Cup semi-final clash with local rivals Halifax as the two sides prepare to do battle live on Sky Sports at the BigFellas Stadium on Thursday June 16 (7.30pm).
The two West Yorkshire sides have formed a fierce rivalry in recent years which reached a peak during last season’s Co-operative Championship Grand Final when Featherstone suffered an agonising Golden Point, drop-goal defeat after leading for most of the game. With the chance to compete for silverware at stake once again, Thursday’s contest is set to be another fierce affair and one Powell is relishing, despite Halifax’s inconsistent season.
“This is a hugely important game for the club and one that we’re really looking forward to,” said Powell. “It’s going to be a big challenge for us.
“These are the games you want to be involved in, every team wants to make it to the last rounds and we’re one of the teams still in there, so we need to go out and make sure we can continue our momentum.
“Halifax have improved dramatically over the last few weeks. They beat a Leigh side who have been in great form all season a few weeks ago and make no mistake about it, they’ve got great players all over the pitch. We’ve got to focus on ourselves and playing to our strengths and if we can play well, then we will get the result.
“They’re in the bottom half of the league but really that’s a false position because they’re much better than their position reflects and you can be sure we won’t be taking anything for granted.”
Having failed to make it beyond the group stages in last season’s Northern Rail Cup, Featherstone finished the season trophy-less, despite losing only two regular season league games and Powell is determined to ensure his side get their hands on silverware in 2011 as just reward for the performances they have put in on the pitch.
“Semi-finals are big games and there’s pressure riding on all the teams involved,” he said. “But the Cup final is where you really want to be and playing for trophies is what it’s all about and everyone at this club wants to be a winner. We can’t get ahead of ourselves though because this is a one-off game and we can’t afford to be anything other than our best.
“I’m happy with how we’re performing so far this season. We’ve played some smart rugby and we’ve been consistent. We probably haven’t been as good as we were last year, but that doesn’t really matter because we’re in a semi-final and we’re doing well in the league so I’m happy.
“We’ve played well in some big games and we’ve coped with a lot of players having injuries and we’re hoping to have Tommy (Saxton) back for Thursday now as well so that’s an extra boost.
“Keeping players fit is crucial for the team because players get worn down when they have to play every week and to have some guys coming back full of energy is great as it gives the other lads a chance to rest up. We’re in a good position with a full squad and we’re ready for the game.”