Revenge will be a prime motivator for Rochdale Hornets when they host Championship rivals Leigh Centurions in the fourth round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup at Spotland on Sunday (2.00pm).
The Hornets were beaten 34-22 at Leigh last weekend when Rochdale coach Ian Talbot feels his side were not too far off, despite coming away with only a bonus point. And with home advantage, Talbot believes his side can turn the tables.
“We went to Leigh under no illusions, they are a good side and we knew it was going to be tough,” said Talbot.
“My lads always give it their all and in the changing rooms after the game there was a feeling that we deserved something more than a bonus point. On another day more decisions go your way but that didn’t happen this time.”
Despite playing the same opposition, Talbot was keen to stress that this was a fresh chance for his team to get something out of a game against the Centurions.
“Last week’s game has already been put to bed,” he said. “It does add to the spice of the game though; I wouldn’t say Leigh underestimated us but I’m not sure they expected us to be that close to them with five minutes to go.
“We wanted a home tie, and we know we’re not going to go all the way to Wembley and win it, but it’s a good competition to be in.”
Leigh coach Paul Rowley is acutely aware that Sunday’s tie won’t be straightforward for his side against opposition who surprised many people by defeating Batley last month.
“People say it’s a shock when you see Rochdale beating a team like Batley but I don’t believe that,” said Rowley. “I don’t think there are any shock defeats in the league and we generally probably don’t give them the recognition They deserve.
“They’ve got a half-back with a great kicking game in Paul Crook, and there are some areas that we’ve identified that we need to improve on. We’ll just be looking to stick to what we do well and I’m sure they’ll take the same approach.
“There are two ways of looking at the competition, you can either want the big club or get that realistic pathway which ourselves and Rochdale have got, so both clubs are chasing the dream.”
The clubs have agreed to offer free entry to Under-16s in an effort to give more youngsters the chance to experience the magic of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup, an initiative which Talbot and Rowley are both supportive of.
Talbot said: “On the back of last season we’re trying to promote the club – the fans and kids especially want to come and watch a successful team. We need firstly to make it accessible and secondly, attractive.”
Rowley added: “I think the game in general needs to have a big push on creating tomorrow’s hardcore fans. We definitely need the new era of fans coming through, especially at Championship level where the average age of the fan base is probably a bit higher.”