FACING BIGGER and more physical opponents in the middle-eights has been an eye opener for Featherstone Rovers, boss Jon Sharp says.
Rovers have lost all their five games so far in the First Utility Qualifiers and are bottom of the table with a negative points difference of 169.
Sharp admits his men have been unable to match the opposition’s size and power, particularly against Super League teams.
Rovers conceded 62 points to Leeds Rhinos and Huddersfield Giants and 70 against Salford Red Devils last Sunday.
They have proved they can put points on full-time teams – scoring 16 last week and against Huddersfield – but injuries to key players have left them on the back foot.
Featherstone face the final top-flight side, Hull KR, at Big Fellas Stadium tomorrow (3pm) and Sharp said: “We’ve had difficulty putting a team out on the field that got us into this stage of the season.
“Not making any excuses, but we have missed blokes like Andy Bostock, who is a big presence and Anthony Mullally, who is a big, physical specimen.
“The size of the opposition is taking its toll on part-time teams and for the last five weeks we’ve trained with 14 people.
“We have been really light on contact because we just can’t risk picking up any more injuries. It has been a real challenge to put a team on the field.”
Rovers played some good attacking rugby last week, scoring the best try of the game in the opening minute, but Sharp said they need to be “competitive for longer” tomorrow.
“That’s the key for us,” he added.
“We have been competitive in every game, but we’ve just not been able to sustain it for long enough to put pressure on the opposition.
“Against Salford we had the opportunity to put pressure on a team fighting for their lives and we got off to a really good start with that amazing try, but then it all went pear shaped for 20 minutes and that’s what Super League teams can do to you.”
Tim Spears could return from injury tomorrow, but Jack Ormondroyd is a fitness doubt.
“It has been one in, one out for a number of weeks now,” Sharp reflected.