Kingstone Press Championship Round 18 – Featherstone Rovers v Doncaster Preview

Friday night is when the Championship action starts this week and it’s at the Big Fellas Stadium where Featherstone Rovers host Doncaster. Gary Thornton hasn’t had the easiest of starts to his reign as Doncaster coach, both of his two games have ended up in losses against full-tune sides in the shape of Bradford Bulls and London Broncos. Dewsbury’s loss last weekend culminated in Featherstone overtaking the Rams as the Rovers hammered Workington in Cumbria.

Last Time Out

Featherstone travelled to Workington for a must-win fixture to keep their top four chase on track. A win is what they got, and in spectacular fashion too, as they overpowered the Cumbrians 52-0. Jy Hitchcox got the scoring going in the 12th minute before Paul Sykes added a try from the centre position. Ian Hardman and Gareth Moore both notched a brace each, which left their side four points short of 40 points at half-time without any sort of reply from Phil Veivers’ Workington side. After the restart, Thomas Minns scored on 49 minutes before Hitchcox bagged his brace on the hour. The last try of proceedings went to Featherstone’s French half-back Remy Marginet, rounding off a great day at the Zebra Claims Stadium for Featherstone. 

Doncaster hosted London Broncos in a different location than usual. Castle Park was the venue where the Dons tried to buck the Broncos but to no avail. However, London were only 10-4 up at the break after Doncaster had some decent field position but could only post one try via Liam Welham. London’s two tries came courtesy of Ben Hellewell and Leeds Rhinos loanee Elliot Minchella. Things got much better in the second half for London as they notched three more tries to seal the win. Before the tries came about, Wes Naiqama kicked a penalty goal to put two scores between the sides. Hellewell completed his hat-trick with two tries in the second half, and usual scorer Rhys Williams also added one. Results like the London game won’t leave coach Thornton downhearted, especially after the Broncos’ recent resurgence, but games against a fellow part-time side in Featherstone will hold more significance.

Key Battle

Paul Mennell, the former Batley Bulldogs and Halifax utility man, made his debut for Doncaster in round 17 against London Broncos. He partnered Richard Wilkinson in the halves and if they can gain some good chemistry in the coming weeks, Doncaster’s survival chances will improve a lot. For Featherstone, Paul Sykes moved back to centre position which meant Will Milner made a return to stand-off with Gareth Moore by his side at scrum-half. Remy Marginet also made an appearance off of the bench, showing Featherstone’s strength in depth in the half-back area. Mennell and Wilkinson will pose a threat to Rovers if the hosts underestimate the pair but with Matt Groat suspended for three matches, the platform to create opportunities will be less prominent.


It’s fair to say Featherstone haven’t had the best home record in 2015, especially compared to other seasons. Beating the side at the foot of the table needs to happen for Andy Hay’s side should they want to finish in the top four. Although Doncaster haven’t won a game up to this point, they’ve certainly showed signs of improvement in the past few weeks and more so in the first half than at any other stage during matches. A victory on Friday night would put them back in the hunt for survival, whether they can pull it off is a different matter entirely – Featherstone by 22

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