Rugby League


6 Oct 2023

Betfred Championship Preview | Featherstone Rovers v London Broncos

Betfred Championship Preview | Featherstone Rovers v London Broncos

The second Betfred Championship Semi-Final sees the league leaders, Featherstone Rovers host London Broncos.

James Ford’s Featherstone side had a near perfect regular season, dropping just four points.

Featherstone are no strangers to reaching this stage of the play-offs and will be hoping to use that big game experience to their advantage.

After topping the table, Rovers were given the advantage of a weeks rest. Ford said he’s is happy how the last two weeks has gone. 

“We are training really well, I’ve been happy with the last weeks preparation, I’ve been happy with the start of this weeks prep. I’m looking forward to us finishing it off”.

This season, Featherstone have done the double over London. Including the home meeting, when the Rovers hit the half century mark.

Despite this, Ford is aware his side can’t take London lightly.

“The second half of this season they’ve been really strong” Ford said “Physicality in the middle, pace on the edges and craft in the halves. They are a good team and Mike (Eccles) has done a good job there”. 

A victory for Featherstone would see them welcome Toulouse or Bradford to the Millennium Stadium and put them just 80 minutes away from the Betfred Super League.

Sunday evening could be a momentous one as Chris Hankinson could make his 200th career appearance on Sunday. Hankinson made 19 appearances while on loan at London during the 2019 season.

The back addressed what it means to reach 200 career appearances during Wednesday’s press conference.

“I’m really happy. It’s a good achievement for myself” Hankinson said “ For me this year, it was important to get back on the field. It’s been a bit of an up and down year and I’m excited to finally reach the milestone”

After a slow start to the season, some would have wrote London off on reaching the play-offs, however, Mike Eccles’ side produced an impressive run to finish fifth in the table.

Eccles believes his side have had to play play-off style rugby for the second half of the season.

“We were pretty busted when we went to Featherstone in week one of the second half of the season” Eccles said “I worked out the week after, if we lost any more than two games  out of 12 games then we wouldn’t make the play-offs. We had to almost tailor for play-off rugby then”. 

The Broncos travelled to South Yorkshire last weekend to face Sheffield Eagles in their opening play-off match. London produced a devastating display as they brushed the Eagles aside with the 42-0 scoreline.

Despite it being a different squad, London are familiar to promotion via the play-offs. In 2018, they travelled to face Toronto where they defeated them to book their return to the Betfred Super League.

London will be hopeful to produce an underdog performance. The Broncos will take hope from the fact Featherstone were defeated at this stage last season by Batley Bulldogs.

Dean Parata could have a big help in the contest for the Broncos. Parata was named on the shortlist for the Betfred Championship Player of the Year. The Italian international featured for Featherstone previous, scoring 13 tries in 25 games.

The match will take place at 6:30PM this Sunday and will be shown live on Viaplay Sports.