Barrow Raiders head coach Garry Schofield is expecting a classic when his side play host to fellow Co-operative Championship side Featherstone Rovers in the Northern Rail Cup clash on Sunday February 20. (2.00pm)
Both sides have won their opening Northern Rail Cup fixtures and with only two games remaining in the group stages, both sides know that one more victory will guarantee them a place in the quarter-finals and Schofield is relishing the chance to see his side in action against one of the competition’s favourites.
“We know this game will be a big test,” said Schofield. “It’s certainly going to be a marker to see how far we’ve come on in the last few months and how far we’ve come under my management.
“Both sides like to play open, attacking rugby and I will be expecting both sides to come out fast on the day and I hope the fans show up in force for what will be a great game. It will be the fixture of the weekend and it will be good for me personally to pit my wits against an old Great Britain team-mate of mine in Daryl Powell and hopefully I’ll come out on top.
“A win will be crucial for us to keep the momentum going. Both sides will have enough quality to progress to the next round even if they lose, but I’m not considering that. We’re both going into the game looking to win and we all know that a third straight win will help take some of the pressure off us.”
Barrow came through a tough contest against Co-Operative Championship One side Rochdale Hornets in the second tie which followed a close fought 24-20 win against York City Knights in the opening game of the competition and Schofield knows that with Featherstone Rovers and Dewsbury Rams still to come, the Northern Rail Cup isn’t going to get any easier.
“We’ve learnt already that you can’t take any sides for granted,” said the former Great Britain captain. “This is a very tough competition and every side deserves respect from the others. All the sides have tremendous work ethic and great team spirit about them and if you underestimate anyone you will come up short and go home empty handed.
“Featherstone are a well organised side and their half-backs are very good. Liam Finn is especially talented and when he gets going he controls the game as well as anyone in the league. They’re a strong side in all departments and they play a smart, attacking game, putting them up there as one of the best teams in the competition.
“But there are plenty of talented lads in this Barrow side and my players are as good a test as anyone in this competition so it has all the ingredients to be a great game.”