Sharlston Rovers target five-star finish to momentous season in BARLA National Cup final

FINAL FLOURISH: Steve Dooler will be available for Sharlston Rovers in Saturday's BARLA National Cup final
FINAL FLOURISH: Steve Dooler will be available for Sharlston Rovers in Saturday's BARLA National Cup final

Sharlston Rovers will target a five-star finish to their season on Saturday when they face Wibsey Warriors in the BARLA National Cup Final.

The all-conquering Weeland Road club have won four trophies from as many competitions this term and will look to complete a magnificent season with a fifth at Fylde RUFC.

The Pennine League, Yorkshire Cup, Pennine President’s Cup and Wakefield ARL Brian McDermott City Plasterers Cup are already in the club’s jam-packed trophy cabinet.

Success against Wibsey, who are playing in a National Cup Final for the first time, will make it the perfect season for Rovers, and the best since Gordy Long took over as head coach.

“It’ll certainly the best season we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Long.

“We had a great year when we beat Dewsbury Rams in the cup and played Oldham but I think this one will top it because of how hard it is to win every competition going.

“I’m not sure it’s ever been done before and I’m not sure if it’ll ever happen again if we do it.”

Sharlston will be big favourites to lift the trophy.

Long’s men thrashed Warriors, who finished sixth in the Pennine League Premier Division, eleven points behind Rovers, 50-10 in their league meeting at Weeland Road.

The Sharlston coach admits he is preparing for a much tougher contest this time around, but says his men should be inspired by last year’s final defeat against Queens.

“I don’t think Wibsey are as bad as some people are making out, especially on that day we beat them,” said Long.

“Everything went well for us that day and we played really, really well. I’m expecting a tougher match this time around.

“We said at the start of the year the National Cup was a big priority for us after finishing runners-up last year so hopefully that will spur us on.”

However, Wibsey inflicted one of Sharlston’s three league defeats last season when the Warriors ran out 26-16 victors on home soil in November.

It will be the third year on the spin Rovers have made the final of the competition - they won it for the first time in 2011 - handing them an advantage with more big game experience.

Long will also be hoping the experience, and the confidence, from already having lifted four trophies this season will give his side the edge on Saturday.

Rovers have mixed team news ahead of Saturday’s clash. Ryan Mallinder and Danny Richardson are both away on holiday, while Rovers have received a blow with the news that centre Lee Lingard will not be fit enough to feature against the Warriors.

Those injury woes have been alleviated by the return of Chris Bingham, who’s missed the last ten weeks through a knee injury, and Steve Dooler, who is available for selection for the first time in a month after getting married.

Head coach Gordy Long says his side have been licking their lips waiting for the match after completing their league season a few weeks ago.

“They lads are all raring to go now and training has gone really well,” he said.

The match kicks-off at 2.30pm and there are still a few places on the supporters’ coach leaving at 11am.