Final showdown for old pals

Daryl Powell is perfectly placed to get one over his former team-mate Mark Aston today

Daryl Powell and Mark Aston formed one of the most significant half-back partnerships of the 1980s and 1990s. This afternoon they will be trying everything they know to put one over on each other in the Co-operative Championship Grand Final for Featherstone Rovers and Sheffield Eagles respectively.

The two men share much of the on-field credit for turning Eagles into a force in the land. Powell was the club's first signing in 1984, but Aston, who arrived a year later, was destined to become an even more important figure in the club's history.

He was still there to lead them to the shock Challenge Cup final victory over Wigan in 1998. Still more fundamentally, he was there to prevent the club from folding after an abortive merger with Huddersfield fell apart.

Powell's route to today's showdown has been more complicated. By the time of that famous Wembley triumph, he had moved on to Keighley and Leeds, where he became head coach in 2001, before being shunted aside and ultimatelycoaching the Leeds Tykes' rugby union operation.

Rovers, coincidentally the other professional club for whom Aston played, brought Powell back to league. Since then, they have finished top of the Championship twice and the celebrated village club, having decided against a Super League application this time around, are committed to one for 2015.

Their consistency makes them the logical favourites at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington today, but Sheffield, after a slow start to the season, have come with a roar in the latter stages, culminating in the victory over Leigh last Thursdayto set up the reunion between the two old team-mates. "We're good mates, but the best team will win on the day," Aston insisted. "It's all about our teams, not about us."

It is a major blow to Sheffield's team that the powerful Papua New Guinea centre, Menzie Yere, is ruled out by suspension. Yere, known as The Jukebox, because he allegedly "has all the big hits," put in one big hit – or rather one dangerous throw – too many to earn his two-match ban.

Most of Featherstone's side played in last season's heartbreaking "goldenpoint" defeat by Halifax, but Powell says that is long since out of their system. "We've been even more consistent this season and that shows that we have put it behind us," he said.

That sort of consistency – Rovers lost just one League match this season – has seen Powell widely touted for a return to Super League, but he has not applied for any jobs nor has he been approached. His aspiration is to coach again at the elite level, but with Featherstone, who will have their ground up to Super League requirements by the time the next round of licences is decided.

Today's game is part of a continuing campaign to show that they could field a team up to scratch, despite sharing a hinterland with two existing clubs, Castleford and Wakefield.

The town still produces more than its share of good players, with the Leeds prospect, Zak Hardaker, the latest example. If they have the edge today, though, it will be through a pack led by the long-serving Stuart Dickens and through players like Tom Saxton and Ben Cockayne with plentyof Super League experience.

On the other side of the world, Manly play the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL Grand Final, with the winners qualifying to play the Super League champions next February.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits