Featherstone Rovers: Debutants deliver as Rovers return to top-three Championship form

John Duffy.
John Duffy.
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FEATHERSTONE ROVERS’ three debutants – including Cameron Smith of Leeds Rhinos – impressed coach John Duffy in the 60-4 win at Swinton Lions.

Dual-registered forward Smith, back-rower James Thornton and hooker Aaron Smith were among Rovers’ substitutes in the success two days ago and Duffy said: “They are really smart players.

Cameron Smith.

Cameron Smith.

“James has come up from Hemel and taken a couple of weeks to get to grips with how we train and what we do and everything we need during a game.

“He has got a great attitude. I put him on the bench and he went well when he got on. The other two are Super League players. Cam Smith was outstanding off the bench and I thought Aaron was a real threat at dummy-half.”

Rovers moved back above Halifax into third place in the Betfred Championship, one point ahead of London Broncos who they face on Sunday.

A win would secure a top-four finish before Rovers visit league leaders Toronto Wolfpack for their final game of the regular season.

“We’re excited about it,” Duffy said. “We’ll have a great week this week.

“We’ll have a good look through the video, but our focus now is solely on London. It has been the most competitive Championship I’ve been involved in, playing or coaching. It has been a real tough slog. I think my players deserve to be there [in the Qualifiers], but we’ve got to work hard this week and give everything on Sunday.”

The performance at Swinton has boosted Rovers’ spirits for the big game. Duffy said: “We spoke about our confidence and togetherness because I thought that was missing a bit last week. The boys really pulled together like they always have done. They were great all week and it really shone through in the performance.”

He added: “I was really pleased. I’m still not over last week, personally, but to see the boys come back and be together as they were was outstanding.

“We were smart and stuck to what we said we were going to do and really ground it out.

“They have got some great players and they are well-drilled so we knew we had to stick with it and the gaps would come in the end.”