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Match thread: Challenge Cup Rd4. Halifax v Featherstone Rovers. Sunday 27th February 2022.


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Four from four and top of the league until Widnes play tonight.

London was the first game this season I think we haven't picked up a serious injury.

Time for a break from the Championship now, and onto the Challenge Cup.

There are 10 4th round ties, and those 10 will produce five 5th round winners.

Those five winners will join the SL clubs in the last 16 of the main competition.

Also, two of those five will playoff for the 4th semi-final spot in the 1895 Cup.

So, if we fancy a day out at Wembley Tottenham, we'll need to win three or possibly four fixtures.

Easy? Yes, of course, it's rugby league.

I assume we are taking this as seriously as possible.

Halifax away is a tough draw to start off with. It'll be interesting to see who Big Mac gives some game time to on Sunday.

Not sure where Halifax are with DR, but traditionally those players don't appear in Cup ties.

Perhaps Sunday will be a dress rehearsal for the league fixture the following weekend?

While we continue to wait for Jacks, and assuming Leilua is more or less ready again, with Mathiou, I think we have 22 players to choose from.

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The forecast for the week ahead is better than it has been for a while so our game might get the go-ahead on Sunday, although the football team have a game scheduled on Saturday which might churn it back up again, presumably there will be sand everywhere as there tends to be at the Shay in these situations.

Like MLP I'm pretty sure we will take this seriously. With the SL teams entering the draw in the next round plus the 1895 Cup also beckoning for the winners, there will be plenty to play for, as well as plenty to lose in terms of extra games to fulfil of course.

McDermott provided some useful injury updates in his RoversTV interview on Saturday whilst understandably not being especially specific. JSL is progressing well with his shoulder injury but still "a number of weeks" away from returning, Koppy also "progressing well, but still a number of weeks away". He did clarify that by adding "more than two weeks", which I took as an encouraging sign, certainly not a torn ACL or anything really bad if he's talking weeks rather than months, probably an MCL injury.

Hardcastle he said was "coming on really well, a couple or three weeks away", it never seems to be specified in sports injury updates whether the timescale is for return to training or return to playing but either way maybe by Easter we might be getting one or two of these guys back which would be great, and of course Ryley Jacks should be here fairly soon.

Leilua he said they were being careful and hopefully clever with, he said Joey was itching to go but they were being very cautious and especially didn't want to risk him on these muddy surfaces which are bad for calf/hamstring issues. It's hard to argue with that, it's later on in the year that we'll really need him and we don't need any setbacks now.

So probably not too many changes this week I'd imagine and maybe another week or two being cautious with Joey.

Perhaps one issue for us is amongst our middles as so far this year the replacement middles such as Field, Trout, McConnell and Cuthbertson have, in my view at least, been a fair way less effective than the starting trio of Lockwood, Cooper and Bussey (with Davies often playing back row so far).

It would also be nice to see a bit more involvement from Connor Jones though he's sure to come into his own as the pitches start to dry up.

Interesting to see Ferres back in the fold with big minutes played on Sunday.

Other than that we look in good shape, but you'd expect a tough game against Fax on their own ground. Not seen anything yet to suggest they have improved as much as their high-profile off-season signings would have suggested (though Grix seems determined to leave some of them out of the team), but although we have a cracking record at The Shay it's usually a very tough game there.

Edited by The Phantom Horseman
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16 hours ago, Monkeymagic22 said:

With quite a few already missing, we will probably go with the same team as on Sunday. Can see us losing this match.

In contrast this is a match I can't see us winning. Its really hard to judge anything about our games so far, we could have been 3/3 but instead have only won one of those. We already have multiple players missing from injury and the first time DR was going to be used was last Sunday but will not be used for the cup game which leaves us a little thin. 

If the game goes ahead then the pitch is going to be awful but at the moment I don't see that has having much bearing over the result as I think Fev beat us comfortably on a dry track and even in a mudbath they should have way too much power for us up front.

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Its not straight forward for me.Do we go all out with our best players available to try to get through to the last 16 and a possible good draw against a SL club that will mean extra revenue.Or after the mudbaths of the last month do we look after our better players for Fax at home the week after.The Championship looks stronger this season and i still think last season was our best chance of getting into SL and when it counted against Toulouse we were no where near our best.

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Id be disappointed if we didnt take it seriously & fielded a “weaker” team in regards to what happens the following week - id love for us to have a crack at a lower SL club at home/away and see where we are & if we get through were still in with a chance of an 1895 cup final app 

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13 minutes ago, sentoffagain2 said:

Its not straight forward for me.Do we go all out with our best players available to try to get through to the last 16 and a possible good draw against a SL club that will mean extra revenue.Or after the mudbaths of the last month do we look after our better players for Fax at home the week after.The Championship looks stronger this season and i still think last season was our best chance of getting into SL and when it counted against Toulouse we were no where near our best.

I bet McDermott will play the strongest 17… one thing about him he doesn’t like losing 

Fax could be off the pace both times against you lot and grix is under the cosh having spent money on the squad and it’s not performed 

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To be fair with only 22 players fit and available I don’t think we have too much room to rest players. Personally I don’t think we will see too many changes from the team that played last week, maybe Holmes may get some game time especially as he missed out last week with both Fev and Leeds.

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1 hour ago, elppaxr2i said:

 id love for us to have a crack at a lower SL club at home/away and see where we are & if we get through were still in with a chance of an 1895 cup final app 

This...I was thinking the other day that this year might be the best year to be drawn against Cas, for instance, for ages. Well, for 10 years, anyway.

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2 hours ago, sentoffagain2 said:

Its not straight forward for me.Do we go all out with our best players available to try to get through to the last 16 and a possible good draw against a SL club that will mean extra revenue.Or after the mudbaths of the last month do we look after our better players for Fax at home the week after.The Championship looks stronger this season and i still think last season was our best chance of getting into SL and when it counted against Toulouse we were no where near our best.

We don't really have too many fringe players to bring in though, do we? Of the guys who probably fit into that category, Gill and (presumably still) Doyle are injured, whilst McConnell has played in the last two games. Mathiou hasn't made a squad yet and perhaps he's being seen as some way off the pace.

You could probably bring in Trout and Holmes and rest a couple, but I think we'll just play something like our strongest team whilst continuing to rotate players from time to time.

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10 minutes ago, sentoffagain2 said:

   Would you play Joey at Fax?.He was left out against London as a precaution but Mac said the injury wasn't serious.I would leave it until the week after against Fax at home.I would bring Holmes into the 17.

Depends on the pitch if it’s heavy I would be tempted not to play him but we are going to have to do it again soon. Was Picersgill okay I know he came off on Saturday.

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I think talk of the strongest 17 is a bit of a misnomer  YES there are players who we would look to put i our starting 17 but in the games so far everyone who has played have rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in and proved they  are a  strong part of THE BLUE WALL and I'm confident no matter what 17 start we will always be a team hard to beat

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On 21/02/2022 at 13:53, The Phantom Horseman said:

 JSL is progressing well with his shoulder injury but still "a number of weeks" away from returning

Jesse put on his Insta today that he had good news after seeing specialists and having scans over the last couple of weeks, "no surgery needed...rehab on way!".

 

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I'm of the opinion that this season the cup matches don't really matter, it's all about the league. Therefore we definitely shouldn't be risking any players with even slight injuries. I'd rest Chissy and play Holmes for instance. You only have to look at how much fresher Toulouse were than us at the end of the season.

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15 minutes ago, Monkeymagic22 said:

I'm of the opinion that this season the cup matches don't really matter, it's all about the league. Therefore we definitely shouldn't be risking any players with even slight injuries. I'd rest Chissy and play Holmes for instance. You only have to look at how much fresher Toulouse were than us at the end of the season.

To be fair Toulouse played a lot less games than us because of covid not really sure the cups had that much to do with it 

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5 minutes ago, Cardypaul said:

To be fair Toulouse played a lot less games than us because of covid not really sure the cups had that much to do with it 

But the cups were an extra five games we had to play on top of  the extra  league games

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2 hours ago, Monkeymagic22 said:

I'm of the opinion that this season the cup matches don't really matter, it's all about the league. Therefore we definitely shouldn't be risking any players with even slight injuries. I'd rest Chissy and play Holmes for instance. You only have to look at how much fresher Toulouse were than us at the end of the season.

Having experienced Wembley last year for the first time since '83 I take the opposite view about the importance of the cup. A visit to Tottenham would be a highlight of the year for me. I'm sure it wouldn't materially impact against our league prospects but rather would give many other positives to the club.

I do agree though that swapping Holmes for Chizzy would be a good idea. Chizzy is my favourite player but he doesn't have the impact on heavy muddy pitches that he has on decent tracks. Keep him fresh for the big games later on.

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21 hours ago, Monkeymagic22 said:

 You only have to look at how much fresher Toulouse were than us at the end of the season.

I'm not sure how you measure that. Perhaps they were just better than us? We looked fresh as paint when we demolished Fax the week before in the semi final.

I'm not saying it wasn't an advantage playing fewer games than us, certainly it was in terms of injuries sustained over the season, but equally, there were posters on this forum who felt before the game that we'd be more "battle-hardened" than Toulouse. Like the "fresher" theory that could have been true too, but it's also something nobody would be able to prove.

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13 minutes ago, The Phantom Horseman said:

I'm not sure how you measure that. Perhaps they were just better than us? We looked fresh as paint when we demolished Fax the week before in the semi final.

I'm not saying it wasn't an advantage playing fewer games than us, certainly it was in terms of injuries sustained over the season, but equally, there were posters on this forum who felt before the game that we'd be more "battle-hardened" than Toulouse. Like the "fresher" theory that could have been true too, but it's also something nobody would be able to prove.

Fair point, they probably were a better side and less matches meant less injuries etc. 

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19 hours ago, The Phantom Horseman said:

I'm not sure how you measure that. Perhaps they were just better than us? We looked fresh as paint when we demolished Fax the week before in the semi final.

I'm not saying it wasn't an advantage playing fewer games than us, certainly it was in terms of injuries sustained over the season, but equally, there were posters on this forum who felt before the game that we'd be more "battle-hardened" than Toulouse. Like the "fresher" theory that could have been true too, but it's also something nobody would be able to prove.

To be Fair I thought Two phases in the final showed the benefit of TO having a lighter season first quarter they came out and ran about like spring chickens and with the help of some iffy try decisions built up a lead but after the game settled down I thought we were as good as them and when we had the try disallowed I thought we were on top Then in  the last ten minutes you could see we were gone and running on empty and they scored another two tries making it look like a comfortable win

I don't think you can compare the FAX game with the final FAX had played a long season like us and the reason we demolished them has you say was for two reasons  we were fitter than them and they were p%ss poor  just like three weeks earlier when we put fifty on them

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22 hours ago, The Phantom Horseman said:

I'm not sure how you measure that. Perhaps they were just better than us? We looked fresh as paint when we demolished Fax the week before in the semi final.

I'm not saying it wasn't an advantage playing fewer games than us, certainly it was in terms of injuries sustained over the season, but equally, there were posters on this forum who felt before the game that we'd be more "battle-hardened" than Toulouse. Like the "fresher" theory that could have been true too, but it's also something nobody would be able to prove.

Perhaps they had a full uninjured squad to choose from! 

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