Friday, 8 August 2014

Sunday's Coming: Dewsbury

Phew, has it really been six months since we bumped into Dewsbury? Way back on 23rd February Hornets began this year's championship adventure going down  42-12 in an eye-opening game at Spotland.

Fast forward to August, and it's not been the easiest of weeks for Dewsbury. Having crashed 36-24 at Halifax last week, the Rams found themselves snarled up in the Yorkshire Dual Reg fiasco that hit the fan earlier in the week.

Having played dual-registered Bradford Bulls player Sam Wood at Halifax, the RFL's whirlpool of confusion sucked in Dewbury - but the RFL's inquiry exonerated the Heavy Woollen club, as they'd acted within the rules relating to the salary capped value of Dual Reg players.

Relieved Rams chairman Mark Sawyer said: "Having co-operated fully with the RFL during their inquiry into the dual-registration of Sam Wood, I would like to inform supporters and sponsors of Dewsbury Rams that the club has been found to have no case to answer. Sam will remain at the Rams on loan terms until the end of the season to help alleviate the club's current injury problems."

However Rams' neighbours Batley (along with Doncaster) have been charged with breaching Operational Rule D1.20 (which states that dual registration players who have a salary cap value of £20,000 or more must have played in at least three league fixtures for the Championship club that season before the end-of-season registration deadline in order to play in games which fall after that date). Pending a full investigation, the potential for a points deduction could chuck a real grenade into the Championship relegation fight, with Batley currently occupying 9th place on 38 points.

Back at the Tetleys Stadium, it's Dewsbury's injury crisis that will be of greatest concern to coach Glenn Morrison - and he saw this as the key determinant in the defeat at the Shay:

“We played really well for the first 20 minutes, but then we fell away. That was to do with having players out of position and players coming in who had not played for a while. We had 11 players unavailable, so that made it tough.

In addition to Sam Wood, Dewsbury have also recalled second-rower Jason Muranka from a loan spell at University of Gloucestershire All Golds. Muranka was available for selection at Halifax, but missed after Tommy Gallagher passed a late fitness test.

As for Hornets, lovers of irony will be aware that - with the Damoclean threat of a points deduction hanging over them - Batley hold the key to the Championship relegtion scrap. If the Bulldogs win on Sunday, it pulls the lever on the trapdoor for both Hornets and Crusaders. Then it'll be all eyes on Red Hall to see if there's a repreive in the offing. Only in Rugby League could the most dramatic restructure in the game's history get potentially derailed by a breach of an obscure operating rule.