Featherstone Lions v Doncaster RLFC: Dons out to avoid Challenge Cup banana skin

There have been any number of Challenge Cup upsets at Featherstone’s Post Office Road ground over the years.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 3:16 pm
Updated Friday, 29th March 2019, 5:11 pm
Photo: Rob Terrace

Some of the biggest clubs in the game at the time saw their Challenge Cup hopes bite the dust in the pre-Super League era.

Although they involved Featherstone Rovers, three-times winners of the trophy, and not local amateurs Featherstone Lions who Doncaster RLFC meet in Sunday’s fourth round tie, the Betfred League One side remain wary.

They certainly don’t want to see their name added to the roll of major Challenge Cup upsets on the ground over the years.

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The National Conference League Division One club, beaten at Milford on Saturday, have switched the tie from their home ground off Wakefield Road to Rovers’ stadium around a mile away.

“We are pleased the tie has been switched because we’ve obviously played against Featherstone over the years and we’ve also switched a couple of our league games there in the recent past when the Keepmoat wasn’t available,” said Green. “It would certainly have been a different game at it being played at their place.

“They’ve got a lot of ex-pros, people who played a bit at reserve or academy level and we are expecting a really tough contest.

“It should be a tie that we win but the main thing is that we’ve got to manage the game better than we did in the league defeat at Whitehaven last time out.

“We’ve certainly had a lot of things to work on in the last ten days or so and ball control will be massive for us on Sunday.

“Discipline, which has been a problem for a long time, is another area we need to improve upon.

“I thought that we’d got over that this season after the first couple of games but we reverted to old ways against Hunslet and Whitehaven and if we go into Sunday’s game with a lack of discipline and keep coughing the ball up then the Lions could have a chance against us.

“You know these sort of teams are going to be physical and we’ll need to keep our composure.

“We will get them (out wide) late on if not before - I’m sure about that.

“But if we give away as many penalties as we did at Whitehaven, and have a completion rate in the 40s, then we’ll be playing right into their hands.

“It’s effectively their Cup final and we know that they are going to be up for it and I expect them to step up a level from their league games.

“They’ve been a big club in the amateur game for a number of years and have produced a lot of good players.

“We’ve not focused on them too much to be honest. It’s one of those games where we have to get our own game right on the day and if we do that the result should take care of itself

“We’ve had a tough start to the league campaign and on paper Sunday’s game is our easiest of the season. But we can’t allow ourselves to think like that or it could be costly.

“We have to treat the Lions with respect. There certainly has to be no complacency in our ranks.”

As was the case in the third-round win over Coventry, the Dons will be without any dual-registered Hull FC players, such as French international Hakim Miloudi, because the Super League side don’t want any of the players on their books cup-tied.

“We will miss them because they are all quality players and they give us a lift when they play for us,” said Green.

“The Lions will be aware of that and will think that we aren’t as strong without them and you probably would have to agree – especially with us also lacking the likes of Brad England and Frankie Mariano, neither of whom has played so far this year and will both be out for a few more weeks.”

Without a game at the weekend, the Dons dropped a place to sixth in League One and are already four points adrift of leaders Hunslet after just four games,

“We are confident that on our day that we can beat anyone in League One and I honestly believe that as the season goes on we’ll prove that,” said Green.

“We’ll be giving both the Challenge Cup and the new 1895 Cup a good crack but we’ve made no secret of the fact that the league is our priority.”