Featherstone Rovers power past Bradford Bulls in Challenge Cup - but coach James Webster says they need to improve

Featherstone proved too strong for Bradford Bulls in both sides’ first competitive game since March 13 last year, but coach James Webster reckons Rovers have a lot of improving to do.

Sunday, 21st March 2021, 8:23 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st March 2021, 8:28 pm
Rovers' Thomas Minns charges towards the Bradford line. Picture by Dec Hayes Photography/Featherstone Rovers.

Bulls started well and led 6-0 early on, but Rovers hit back to go in at the break 24-6 ahead.

It was a similar story after half-time when Bradford scored two tries to cut the deficit to eight points, before a second touchdown from Featherstone forward James Harrison ended their fightback and Rovers went on to win 41-16.

Webster felt the Betfred Challenge Cup first round tie was much closer than the scoreline suggests and described it as a "tough contest".

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He said: “I thought Bradford were very committed and they made few errors early on, which was in total contrast to us - we made a thousand errors and made it really hard for ourselves.

“We have got some good players who can break tackles and score tries, but once we learn to respect the ball a bit more we will be a lot better.

“We had to scramble really well to keep Bradford out and we could easily have been trailing by more at one stage.

“I am very happy to be in the next round, but I am hoping we can improve in a couple of areas.”

Harrison, who played four games on loan for Leeds Rhinos last year, was among Rovers’ substitutes and Webster praised the impact made by his bench.

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Featherstone Rovers 41 Bradford Bulls 16 - James Harrison grabs Challenge Cup do...

“Dean Parata was good when he came on,” he reflected.

“James Harrison was outstanding and Dale Ferguson came on and created a bit more tempo, but if I was [Bulls coach] John Kear, I would be proud of my players - I thought they had a right go.

“At times we came up with some really good plays from really good individuals.

“It wasn’t that we continually broke Bradford down, we just had some players who could break a tackle and come up with some plays.”

Rovers’ next two games are both at home to Batley Bulldogs, in the Cup second round this weekend before the sides meet in their opening Betfred Championship game on Friday, April 2.

Rovers are likely to be without Ferguson for both games after he picked up a hamstring injury on Sunday.