Rovers and Challenge Cup become reaquainted
CHALLENGE CUP EXCITEMENT GROWS
For the village of Sharlston the involvement in the prestigious Challenege cup competition registers memories of the most successful season in the clubs existence.
Almost 5 years ago (6th Feb 04) Martin Wood lead the Weeland Road club to one of the most memorable professional scalps of recent years with an unanticipated victory over Dewsbury Rams, earning an opportunity to play a super league opposition in the fourth round.
Since then the RFL have altered amateur entries from season to season and Rovers were last participants in 2005 season. Rovers went into the preliminary tie full of confidence with the Yorkshire Cup victory fresh in their minds, but a tough fixture that went to extra time away at Saddleworth sent Sharlston crashing out of the competition.
Just under 3 seasons have now passed and with the league campaign just slipping out of their grasps, the road to Wembley has been a path Sharlston havenít had the chance to stride.
That is until now, for the second year running BARLA have requested the RFL to invite itís county cup champions and the impressive victory over Hunslet Warriors in the final earns the club the chance to become reacquainted with the esteemed competition.
The current Rovers side is a young agile squad but 9 of itís current players participated in that fantastic occasion at Post Office road when Rovers stepped from amateur minnows to professional slayers, although 2 of them were on the losing side that day with Craig Miles and Jonathan Waddle wanting to forget that defeat.
If Rovers are to emulate that success they will need to be on the top of their game and recent form suggests they have the fire power to make an assault after picking up notable victories in the national cup campaign.
The first run of the ladder will see Rovers travel to National Conference league division 2 side Crosfields and assistant coach Gordy Long is showing the upmost respect for his Warrington opponents saying
ďWe may be the fancied team in this tie and the lads have earned that high opinion with the results they have achieved, but we will go into this prestigious game expecting the hosts to throw everything at us. Iím confident our defensive efforts will continue to be impenetrable but we need to concentrate on not straying from our game plan, respecting the ball more and being patient in putting the points on the board.Ē
The romance of the Challenge cup is expected to rouse a strong support for the travelling Sharlston contingent and the club management have arranged 2 coaches for the special event. Advanced bookings are available and favoured but the club will try and accommodate any one wanting to cheer on the Rovers. Travel costs only £5 per person and will leave the Sharlston Hotel at 10.30am prompt for a 1.30pm kick off.
The Rovers will travel with a strong side but will be without the services of BARLA international Lee Maskill and perennial performer Keith Brook who both sit out with hand fractures. Brook has undergone surgery and its hoped he again shows to be a quick healer after coming back from terrible leg break 2 seasons ago.
Comfort will be found in the addition to the squad of James Lockwood and Chris Bingham who return from down under after completing a successful season at Eden Tigers.