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“We showed a lack of discipline” – Featherstone Rovers’ loss explained by James Ford

Featherstone Rovers head coach James Ford has blamed his side’s lack of discipline as the reason behind the surprise loss to Batley Bulldogs.

The two teams were facing off in the 1895 Cup, which has been pushed to the start of the calendar in its new format, and it was Batley who took the spoils 15-14.

Batley made the final of the competition in 2023 and the win over Featherstone Rovers puts them in a strong position to progress from the group.

Rovers’ James Ford has reacted to the loss in an interview shared on the club’s X account and he has blamed a number of unforced errors as a key factor in the loss.

“Well, congratulations to Batley first and foremost. Obviously, we fancy ourselves as a decent team and they’ve beaten us, so well done to them,” Ford explained.

“Today I don’t think we showed anywhere near our potential. I thought we started the game really poor. Some unforced errors were compounded with a lot of penalties and the possession came right in Batley’s favour.”

Rovers went in at the break trailing 12-6 before flipping the game around to lead 14-12, however, a penalty and drop goal for the home side secured the famous win and Ford has berated the lack of discipline.

Ford continued: “Second half, I thought we were pretty good for half an hour. We got ourselves into a position to win the game, but then we had some discipline issues and gave Batley an opportunity to win the game.

“So I think we showed a lack of discipline and when we did have some territory and possession, we didn’t look like the side that I’ve seen in practice.

“Obviously we need to revisit that. We’re going to have to do a little bit more and make sure that we transfer what we work on in training onto the game day field.”

Featherstone Rovers hit with huge player turnover prior to 2024

Chris Hankinson left Featherstone Rovers in January to sign for Salford Red Devils.

Chris Hankinson left Featherstone Rovers in January to sign for Salford Red Devils. – Picture by John Clifton/

Perhaps one of the key reasons for Featherstone Rovers’ struggles has been the immense turnover of players at the club from the 2023 season to this current campaign.

At the end of the year, the club saw 17 players depart and that has since been added to with the total now sitting at 19 players to have left The Millennium Stadium.

Whilst the club have recruited and replaced players, the time it takes to bond and gel with so many new faces is something that can’t be underestimated.

Among the major names to leave were Chris Hankinson, who has joined Salford Red Devils, former NRL star Joey Leilua and ex-Super League talent such as Luke Briscoe and Daniel Smith.

They were also beaten to the punch to sign Greg Eden who headed to Halifax Panthers, whilst talks linking them to Blake Austin also didn’t lead to anything.

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