Sharp: We need to be at our best

Featherstone Rovers boss Jon Sharp believes that his side will have to be at their best should they want to come out on top against Sheffield Eagles.

Rovers are third in the table, only behind Toulouse Olympique on points difference and are favourites to move a step closer to securing a place in the Qualifiers for the second year running.

The Eagles, however, have won four out of their last five games including scoring 90 points in their last two outings, against Rochdale Hornets and Dewsbury Rams respectively.

Featherstone’s defensive record is only bettered by Hull KR and Halifax with Sharp believing they will have to be on their game to stop a dangerous Sheffield attack on Sunday.

“Sheffield are always a tough nut to crack,” said Sharp. “There’s a really good group of players who work hard for each other and on their day, they are more than capable of beating anyone.

“They’ve got some good attacking players who run the ball hard and who are difficult to defend against. The last time we played them we’d been defending really well leading into that game but we still conceded 22 points. They played some really good attacking stuff and I know we need to be on our metal in defence to keep them out. We also need to be at our best to beat them.

“Both teams have hit a bit of form. I think it’s going to be a good game with not much in it. Historically, I think Sheffield and Featherstone’s games have always been nip and tuck, close affairs and I can’t see this being any different.”

Having lost at Featherstone 47-22, in a scoreline which flattered the victors at the time, Sheffield coach Mark Aston, whose son Cory could be lining up against him on Sunday afternoon, is looking forward to taking a much-improved Eagles side to the LD Nutrition Stadium again.

“They’re undoubtedly one of the top teams in the division, they pushed Hull KR very close and I’m expecting a real tough encounter. They’re allowed the use of, no doubt, three or four Leeds players on dual-reg too which has strengthened them. It’s certainly going to be a tough ask for us but we’re looking forward to it because we really pushed them close a few weeks ago and we believe we’ve improved since then.”