MEMBERS of the Dewsbury Rams squad get a last chance to stake claims for senior places when they play their final pre-season fixture against Bradford Bulls at Tetley’s Stadium on Sunday (3pm).
Rams coach Warren Jowitt has used 27 players in the games against Batley Bulldogs and Super League Wakefield and stressed the players now had a last opportunity to impress before the Northern Rail Cup tie at Toulouse in two weeks’ time.
Two players set to be on duty are Shaun Emblem and Nicky Saxton, who missed last Sunday’s game against the Wildcats because of flu. Jowitt added: “They need game-time and I am going to give them another chance.”
Also in the reckoning will be Matty Brooks, from Sheffield, who was snapped up when it was clear unlucky hooker Luke Blake would be out for several weeks due to a knee injury.
The coach remarked: “Matty played really well for the reserves on Saturday and did another good job when he doubled up in the first team on Sunday. He is going in the right direction.”
Jowitt has also been highly encouraged by the form of Josh Tonks and Elliot Cosgrove and added: “They have been absolute quality and have already pushed some players out of their places.
“This is the last chance for everyone to impress before we go to Toulouse and there must be no easing off. I don’t care what team Bradford turn out, we want to beat them and play well.”
Jowitt was very encouraged by the display against a strong Wakefield outfit and said the 30-10 scoreline in no way resembled the flow of the game. He added: “We made a couple of individual lapses and were 18-0 down at half-time. They scored three minutes into the second half but then went almost 38 minutes and never looked like scoring and we played the better rugby.
“Tom Wandless had a perfectly good try disallowed and we missed two or three other clear-cut chances, including the one where Austin Buchanan mis-kicked with the line open and that earned him the infamous pink t-shirt. He’s taken a lot of stick about it.
“Overall I was delighted with the performance. We can iron out the individual mistakes and look ahead, that’s what friendlies are for. I know Wildcats’ prop Paul King quite well and he came up to me after the game and said our forwards had battered them and he’s been around and knows what he’s talking about.
“But if you make mistakes at that level you get punished. Wakefield aren’t in the Super League for nothing and they showed us how to take chances. They were very clinical.”
The Bulls have been in warm weather training in Lanzarote and returned yesterday. They intend to name a mixture of Under-21 players with a sprinkling of first teamers, among them Danny Addy, who made a couple of appearances as a dual registered player for the Rams last season but was quickly recalled for regular first team duty with the Bulls and did well.
Also with the Bulls will be popular local man Francis Cummins, who gave such outstanding service as a player and coach at Leeds Rhinos before joining the Bulls as assistant coach. He has been in Australia on a special coaching course but is due to return tomorrow and will be at the game on Sunday.
Dewsbury would welcome a good day. Wind and rain restricted last Sunday’s attendance and this is another chance for the Rams to boost income as they take all the receipts. A crowd of around 1,500 would be a good lift.