The winner of this match takes a place in the Qualifiers. The loser has to settle with a spot in the Championship Shield. It’s quite the scenario and it certainly lives up to the RFL’s ‘Every Minute Matters’ slogan. It’s going to be a nerve-racking 80 minutes for both sets of fans but it should turn out to be an enthralling contest for the neutral.
Last Time Out
The last three games of the season for Featherstone Rovers were labelled as a ‘quarter-final, a semi-final and a final’ by coach Jon Sharp. His side have stepped up to the plate and now destiny is in their own hands following victories over Batley Bulldogs in round 21 and Halifax last Sunday. Featherstone beat Halifax 24-20 at The Shay and the first action of note in the game came with the sin-binnings of Fax forward Jacob Fairbank and Rovers’ full-back Ian Hardman. Steve Tyrer kicked a penalty goal to edge the hosts in front before Andy Ellis and Ashton Golding responded with a try apiece for Fev. Connor Robinson crossed the whitewash soon after for Richard Marshall’s side prior to Kyle Briggs kicking a penalty goal. In the dying embers of the first period, Ben Johnston notched Fax’s second four pointer of the match and his side were in front by a couple of points at the break. After the restart, Briggs levelled matters with a penalty goal before Rovers hit the front courtesy of Misi Taulapapa. On the hour, Mitch Cahalane registered a converted try to regain Halifax’s slender lead which was soon wiped out by Anthony Thackeray. The former Fax scrum-half latched on to a Jack Ormondroyd offload and that score proved to be the difference.
Bradford Bulls capitalised on Halifax’s loss by moving into the top four with a 44-12 win over Oldham at the Provident Stadium. The full-timers only led by six points at half-time despite scoring four times thanks to Kris Welham, Omari Caro, Kurt Haggerty and Joe Philbin. Oldham’s tries in the first period were scored by debutant Jack Blagbrough and Michael Ward. The second half was one way traffic as Caro added four tries and fellow winger Ethan Ryan also got in on the act with a try of his own.
The wingers of both teams possess immense amounts of talent and the battle on the flanks should prove to be entertaining on Sunday. Ashton Golding and Misi Taulapapa provide a nice mix of raw talent and experience to the Featherstone squad and they will need to be on guard when they go up against two of the division’s most in-form wingers. Omari Caro scored five tries in Bradford’s last game while Ethan Ryan has been an ever-present in Rohan Smith’s side since the Australian took over.
Bradford will head into the match as favourites but it’s certainly not a forgone conclusion that they will take home the spoils. Featherstone have performed out of their skin over the past couple of weeks and they will be wanting to finish off the job in style against the Bulls. The Big Fellas Stadium will be close to a sellout on Sunday, and what an atmosphere it will be! – Bradford by 8