It is not the most prestigious competition on rugby league’s calendar, but a final is a final and Featherstone Rovers will be going all out for victory in tomorrow’s Kingstone Championship Shield decider at Widnes (4.30pm).
Last year’s Championship runners-up finished a disappointing fifth on the table this year, but topped the Shield ladder and have chance to go into the off-season on a high with a win over London Broncos.
Jon Sharp, who took over as coach from Andy Hay in July, said: “It is an opportunity to finish the year off strongly.
“It has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride for the club. There was a lot of hope at the start of the year, but it was a disappointing opening to the campaign and a coach lost his job, unfortunately.
“Towards the back end we have turned that around and things look very different now to the way the club started.
“We have got a team full of kids under-23, with a smattering of experienced players.
“They are working hard for each other and playing some good stuff and we have said all along if we are in this competition, we are going to do our best to win it.
“We’ve won seven out of our last eight, which we are pleased with and I think the experience of a final and the build up to it will be good for the team and will give us some momentum going into the off-season.
“It’s chance to see how the young fellas handle it and to win some silverware.”
London, who were relegated from Super League last season, finished seventh in the Championship, but won at Dewsbury Rams last week to reach tomorrow’s final.
“They looked like a full-time team,” Sharp said of that game. “They were well-organised, fit and fresh.”
Jordan Baldwinson, who joined Featherstone from Leeds Rhinos on a one-year deal, will head back to Headingley at season’s end, and the 20-year-old plans to wrap up his Rovers career with silverware.
“It’s really important we finish with some silverware,” said Baldwinson. “The fans expect so much down at Featherstone so the pressure is on us to win.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time down at Featherstone and it would be nice to finish with some silverware when I leave after Sunday’s game.
“I’ve never got to or played in a final so I don’t want us to throw away all the hard work we’ve put in on the last and biggest game of the season.”