Thursday, 3 May 2018

Sunday's Coming: Dewsbury

“We basically went with all of our remaining fit players. For a small squad, having eight players out is a significant number. We’re looking to bring people in, but unfortunately the cupboard is bare. There aren’t that many players about generally and it’s worrying for the game - I know we’re not the only club in that position.”

If Alan Kilshaw had said that after Hornets defeat against Sheffield, you’d find it hard to argue, given the tsunami of injuries that has crashed its way through the Hornets squad.

But he didn’t.

This was Dewsbury coach Neil Kelly speaking to the League Express earlier this week, following his side’s 64-4 demolition at full-time London. And thereby hangs part of the problem.

The financial gravitational pull of the full-time sides in the Championship has caused an inflationary ‘trickle-up’ of player quality - and salary - expectations as the sides clinging to the slipstream of Toronto, Toulouse, London and Leigh stretch their resources to stay competitive.  And this ‘forcing’ of the standard, leaves smaller clubs struggling to keep pace.

Doncaster Chief Carl Hall said this week - as his side snapped up Frankie Mariano from Featherstone -  “League 1 now is where the Championship was four years ago: if you look back, that was a real tough league and we’re getting as strong in League 1 now.” And he’s right.

What we see is a clear split in Championship ambition and capability. The ‘Big Four’ - with Featherstone and Halifax in the mix - cleaving towards - and taking players from - Super League; then the bottom half of the championship and the top half of League 1 edging closer together - all of whom are in direct competition for players of a similar standard.

It’s an interesting - and critical - issue as the game enters a period where all eyes are on the ‘haves’ at the expense of the ‘have nots’. And as Super League seeks to take greater control of Rugby League in order to feather its own nest, Aaron Bower’s interview with Carl Hall in this week’s League Express is definitely worth a look on this subject. Click here to see the full article.

Dewsbury’s loss at London was their Rams’ eighth straight loss in all competitions (they too lost at Whitehaven in the cup!) and - speaking to the Yorkshire Post  - Kelly said: Kelly said: “We have had a run of tough games and we are disappointed and upset at what has happened.”

The Rams were without influential captain Paul Sykes at Trailfinders Stadium - the victim of a hamstring injury in their game against Halifax.  According to the Yorkshire Post: “… Sykes could be facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines…” - Neil Kelly has taken Wigan stand-off, Lewis Heckford on-loan as cover.

Having fielded a patched up side in the much-improved performance against Sheffield, Alan Kilshaw must have been left wondering if he’d broken a mirror, as further injuries accounted for Lewis Hatton, Jo Taira, both Adamson Brothers and Dave Allen to strip his options to the barest of bones.

With Dewsbury in a similar boat, it gives Sunday’s game a bit of a ‘lottery’ feel - where it’ll come down to the bounce of the ball and the desire of those involved to make their own luck.  Dewsbury sit three places above Hornets in the table, amongst a clutch of sides on six points. And with Swinton playing Toronto on Saturday, you have to see this as a real opportunity to get a result at the Tetley Stadium, close the gap on the sides above and create some daylight between us and the Lions.

So get yourself over to Dewsbury: let’s make some noise, lift the lads and do our bit.

See you there.