COACH John Duffy feels Featherstone Rovers need to be smarter to beat the level of opposition they will face in the Qualifiers.
Rovers lost all seven games in the middle-eights last year and began this season’s campaign with a 38-12 home defeat by Super League side Leigh Centurions.
Leigh finished second from bottom in the elite competition and their convincing victory illustrated the size of the task facing Rovers, who are the lowest-ranked team in the competition.
The Championship outfit played better than the final scoreline suggests, but a series of errors and penalties proved costly and that is the area Duffy has pinpointed to improve on before Sunday’s trip to London Broncos.
“There was a bit of ill-discipline and not controlling the ball,” reflected Duffy.
“We made some simple errors. We have got some work to do, but I thought in patches we were good.
“We just didn’t take those opportunities and you have to do that when you play Super League – or any – opposition.”
Duffy added: “You can’t knock the lads’ efforts, we just need to be a bit smarter and start the game better.
“Once you make errors against these big teams – who have been playing at a higher intensity than us all season – you get punished.
“We did too much defending across the board and there were some really soft tries scored against us in the end.
“We have got a lot to work on this week.
“We have got to get better and we will get better.”
Rovers never really recovered after going 12-0 down after just six minutes, to tries by Daniel Mortimer and Gregg McNally.
They did half the deficit through a Darrell Griffin try and conversion from Ian Hardman, but Leigh led 16-6 at the interval after Mitch Brown dived over.
Luke Briscoe dropped the ball over the visitors’ line late in the first half, the try being ruled out by video official Phil Bentham against referee James Child’s initial indication and Frankie Mariano was pulled back for a forward pass early in the second.
Those missed chances proved costly.
By the time Misi Taulapapa scored a deserved touchdown on 67 minutes, again improved by Hardman, Rovers were 32-6 behind, having conceded tries to Liam Hood, Matty Dawson and Josh Drinkwater, who also finished the game with five goals.
McNally scored Leigh’s final try with five minutes left, moments after being the victim of a foul which earned Richard Moore a spell in the sin-bin.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Turner, Taulapapa, Hardcastle, Briscoe, Briggs, Thackeray, Moore, Carlile, Griffin, Davies, Farrell, Lockwood. Substitutes: Wildie, Bostock, Mariano, Brooks.
Leigh Centurions: McNally, Dawson, Fleming, Langi, Brown, Mortimer, Drinkwater, Hansen, Higham, Maria, Paterson, Vea, Burr. Substitutes: Hood, Richards, Tickle, Stewart.
Referee: J Child (Batley).