When we tipped Gateshead to beat Big Spending North Wales Crusaders™ by two points last weekend, one or two of their fans took the piss. But with four minutes remaining at Filtrona Park last week, Gateshead were clinging desperately to a two point lead. You could hear the squeaking sphincters from here.
As it was, Big Spending North Wales Crusaders™ hooker McConnell snuck in for a try at the death to whisk the game from under Thunder's noses. Cruel.
Needless to say, Kevin Neighbour was disappointed at having come so close: "We've turned a massive corner over the last six weeks," he said. "I'm just gutted that 30 seconds cost us the game late on. No-one would've backed us to take Crusaders right to the death a few weeks ago and it's disappointing that we got beat today."
"You can see the confidence in the players now, they trust each other and have a fantastic attitude."
Having started picking up wins and gaining a bit of momentum, it's too late for Gateshead to get in the last playoff berth (they'd have to win all three games by significant margins and for other results to go in their favour), but if they can maintain their confidence, they have a chance to have a say in the top four run in, especially with Hemel Stags making the long-trip North on the last Sunday of the season.
|One of these men is going to New Zealand|
But the big news from the North East this week is the announcement that this will be Neighbour's last season at Gateshead. Having played 200 games for Thunder and having coached the side for the last two years, his decision to emigrate to New Zealand brings to an end a 15 year career at the club. And that level of commitment deserves recognition.
As for Hornets, if the lads can maintain the level of intensity shown in last week's eerie deja-deja-vu second half performance, then we have a solid chance of taking this third in a series of five 'cup finals'. Indeed, as some wag near me said after last week's game, "… perhaps Tol should give his half time team talk before they go out at three o'clock…"