Roosters ready for semi

St Ives Roosters prepare for their RFL Conference East play-off semi-final at Sudbury Gladiators this weekend

EXPOSING their opponents technically will be crucial if St Ives Roosters are to beat Sudbury in their own backyard in Saturday’s Conference East play-off semi-final clash, kick-off 2.30pm.

St Ives go into the game as massive underdogs and will come up against a side who have already bulldozed their way to wins over them this season in the regular league fixtures.

The Gladiators inflicted Roosters’ only home league defeat on them back in June, when they ran out 46-18 winners.

Then, on Saturday, Roosters took an 80-12 battering at Sudbury although, given the match was reduced to a 60-minute nine-a-side match due to Roosters’ depleted squad, it is unlikely to have any bearing on the upcoming game.

Looking ahead to the weekend, Roosters director of coaching Ian Hill said: “Sudbury will undoubtedly be favourites. It’s probably the most difficult tie we could have got as, after convincingly beating Bedford Tigers a fortnight ago, we felt we would’ve had the psychological edge had we played them. Sudbury are a Parachute Regiment Army side so therefore will be ahead in terms of their fitness levels and be physically stronger.

“We’re better than them technically, but having a chance will depend on being able to exploit that – and also that we get a good, strong referee.”

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An administrative error by the Rugby Football League (RFL) meant the Roosters did not find out the identity of their play-off opponents until yesterday morning – and were originally down to visit Bedford Tigers in their play-off semi.

The confusion came after a postponed game between Sudbury and fourth-placed Bury Titans on July 16 – which has subsequently been awarded to Bury – altered the league standings, which weren’t corrected until yesterday.

It has also been revealed this week that there will be four teams in this season’s play-offs with Bedford Tigers, who finished first, hosting fourth-placed Bury Titans on Saturday with the winner facing either Sudbury or Roosters in the final.

In previous years, the team that finished first had gone straight into the play-off final, with the teams finishing second and third battling it out to face them.

The Roosters, though, will have to make do without the services of Adam Peel and Paul Ashbridge at Sudbury, with both on England Lionhearts duty.