This Saturday, 9th placed Hornets visit table topping University of Gloucestershire All Golds in search of their first win of 2015. Now there's a sentence I never quite envisaged writing…
UGAG's 36-6 round one win over South Wales Scorpions (already front-runners for the role as competition whipping boys) may give their early zenith a slightly over-inflated look. But it's also a clear indication of the progress made at the Prince Of Wales Stadium - and that, on any given day in League 1, anything other than full concentration can come back and bite you hard.
Having led 16-6 at half-time, UGAG scored four unanswered tries in a one-way second half on a day of milestones for the tyro club. Not only was it the first time the All Golds had conceded fewer than 10 points in their two year history, it was also interesting to note that the win was secured in front of the All Golds' biggest ever home crowd of 404. So positive news on that front too.
Behind the scenes, former Halifax assistant coach (not the bad country 'n' western singer) Lee Greenwood took the reins after after Steve McCormack left for 'personal reasons' at the end of last year - and he's got a pedigree steeped in Rugby league at all levels.
|"I bloody love this album, Lee"|
Lee Greenwood's record speaks for itself
Greenwood played for his hometown club at Siddal before embarking on a respectable pro-career that took in Sheffield Eagles, Halifax, London Broncos, Huddersfield Giants, Leigh Centurions and Batley Bulldogs. He also scored two tries in two appearances for England in 2004.
His coaching career began with a five year stint at Siddal as well as serving as number two to Karl Harrison at both Halifax and Batley. He also has experience in working with developing players, having coached Calderdale College to an unbeaten clean sweep of all possible competitions last year. They beat Hopwood Hall in the National Colleges Final by 50 – 6. He also has the rare distinction of having been stood down by the club he played for because they drew the club he coached in the Challenge Cup (Batley v Siddal, April 2010)!
Greenwood has put together a useful looking UGAG squad that quietly hides a wealth of high quality experience gained in the UK's 'heartland', in Australia's regional competitions and French National Div 2 . He's also recruited talent from local sides in another handling based football code - including 'Glawster' and 'Ospreys'.
The All Golds banged 7 tries through the fragile Scorpions defence - further indication that Greenwood's side have have plenty of points in them, having panned Skirlaugh 66-4 in the Challenge Cup before going down 28-10 against Championship Hunslet.
Closer to home, Ian Talbot wasn't a happy bloke after last week's disappoinitng derby-day slip-up.
He said: "… the first 80 metres isn’t an issue, the lads are working hard to get us in those scoring positions and then we look clueless. The time when you’re looking for your leaders to lead and organise and set up the plays, they’re just disappearing and it is a worry.
“But the effort's there and as long as that’s there and the commitment is there and you’ve got something to work with… hopefully next week, if they put in as much effort and as much commitment with a little bit more smartness, we will come away with a result.”
Indeed, the season has a very long way to go and it's a bit early to start having a crisis of faith. So come on, folks: let's brush ourselves down, get down to Cheltenham on Saturday and get behind the boys as they get this key season underway properly. You know you want to… see you there.
The All; Golds Squad v the Scorpions was:
Joe Martin(t), Callum Mulkeen (2t), Lewis Reece, Phil Cowburn, Ryan Pywell, Davies, Bradley (t), Ollie Purslow, Steve Parry, Joe McClean, Emmerson Whittel (t), Ash Haynes, Mark Bowen. Subs: Toby Topham (t), Brad England, Chris Vitalini (t), Izaak Duffy.
Getting to Cheltenham
Post Code for Prince of Wales Stadium, Cheltenham is
South on the M6, follow signs for Birmingham/M5.
M6 - At junction 8, take the M5 exit to Birmingham (W & S) / West Bromwich
M5 - At junction 10, exit onto Writhy Bridge/A4019 toward Cheltenham
Continue to follow A4019
After 2.2 miles, at the roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto Tewkesbury Rd/A4019
After 0.5 mile Turn left onto Elm St
After 150 yards Turn right onto Swindon Rd
After 400 yards - at the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto St Paul's Rd
After 150 yards - turn left onto Folly Ln
After 300 yards Continue onto Tommy Taylors Ground is obn your left after 100 yards
There is also a direct train from Manchester Piccadilly to Cheltenham Spa at 10.00 (arr 12.45). Station is one mile from the ground. Return Train at 6.01pm (arr Man. Picc. 8.35pm)