BASED on bitter experience, Hunslet Hawks coach Barry Eaton is backing Featherstone Rovers to win the Northern Rail Cup final on Sunday.
Eaton has had a close look at both the finalists over the last two weeks, with Hawks having lost 68-0 at Featherstone before a 52-22 home defeat by Halifax five days ago.
Rovers are top of the Co-op Championship, one place and two points clear of Halifax and Eaton believes this weekend’s showpiece, at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, will be a thriller.
“Both teams are very good with the ball in hand and they can both score tries from anywhere,” said Eaton.
“They have both got great halves, big forwards and their outside-backs are good. From that point of view, I think it is an even-match.
“But I think Featherstone have just got a bit of a meaner defence. They will have to be at their best to win the game, but I would tip them to edge it because I think they can handle defensive pressure a bit better than Halifax.”
Rovers have already earned the right to apply for a Super League licence in two years’ time, by winning last year’s Championship Grand Final.
Halifax were the 2011 NRC runners-up and will also force their way into contention if they go one better this weekend.
“It depends on the weather, but I think there could be a decent amount of points scored,” Eaton predicted.
“There’s going to be too many good attacking players on show for it to be a low-scoring affair.
“I think they are the two best teams in the division. Other teams can give them a real run for their money, but I wouldn’t bet against either of them getting to the Grand Final as well.”