AFTER passing their French test with honours, Dewsbury Rams take a well-earned break this weekend before a crunch televised Co-operative Championship game against Hunslet Hawks at South Leeds next Thursday (7.30pm).
The Rams answered the stringent criticism of coach Warren Jowitt after the defeat at Batley by producing a quality display to outplay a strong Toulouse side last Saturday, leaving Jowitt describing it as one of the best performances since he took charge.
The Rams are the odd team out this weekend and Jowitt said he was glad of the break because the side had taken a few knocks but he stressed: “That doesn’t mean we won’t be training, we play on Thursday and can’t afford to have a weekend off.”
There is a chance that stand-off Pat Walker could be available next week after a seven-week lay-off with a broken wrist.
The Hunslet game could be specially interesting as they go into their match at Batley on Sunday as one of only two unbeaten teams in the division. A win at Mount Pleasant would really set things up, particularly as the Hawks have so many Heavy Woollen-based players in their squad, led by player-coach Paul March, brother David and other Thornhill products in Danny Ratcliffe and ex-Rams Luke Haigh and Rob Kelly. They also have other former Dewsbury players in Joe Helme and John Oakes to give a real derby element.
Jowitt said it wasn’t possible to assess prospects at this early stage of the league campaign and it would need at least six matches before proper judgements could be made.
He added: “We have chopped and changed during the Northern Rail but the league is the crunch and we’re judged on that. Results so far show few teams have settled. At least we have a win under our belts.”
Inevitably the coach was not fully satisfied with Dewsbury’s display against Toulouse, despite an excellent 35-6 triumph. He went on: “We have to keep our feet on the ground.
“You can’t go through any game squeaky clean and there are still areas we need to work on. Toulouse were a big side but our pack played well as a unit. We need a repeat of that at Hunslet.
“It’s the old story if your pack is going forward, the half-backs do well and bring the threequarters into things. The pack didn’t do anything at Batley but the forwards stood up to be counted last weekend.
“Kyle Bibb came in, made a big improvement and showed why I brought him here and Anthony England had a big game.” Bibb was called up to the seniors after again scoring two tries for the Reserves in their second successive win, 52-18 over Halifax.
But Jowitt observed: “You don’t say a bloke had a good game because he scored a couple of tries. It’s nice to have a forward scoring but you also need ball carriers, they have to do the hard yakka. He’s big enough to do that and do some damage.
“Dominic Brambani knew he had played poorly at Batley and didn’t need me to tell him. He responded and had a massive impact against Toulouse, it was the best kicking game I’ve seen since I’ve been here.
“When Dominic is on form it’s like having a coach on the field because he sorts the other players out.”
The coach also praised Ben Bolger, who came on at centre when Scott Turner injured an ankle. Jowitt remarked: “Ben had never played there before but did a fine job and Ryan Glynn closed the door at full-back, when they made breaks he stopped them.
“Michael Wainwright scored three tries and that will do him good. He’s been at Castleford, who play a different style, and is still adjusting to us but he is settling.”
Jordan Tansey, who made four appearances for the Rams, has joined Super League Crusaders on an 18-month contract.
n Dewsbury Rams put The Army through their paces at Tetley’s Stadium last night. The Army contacted the Rams and asked if they would be prepared to put their 40-strong rugby squad through a full-on training session and Dewsbury were happy to oblige.
‘Sergeant Major’ Warren Jowitt and his assistants, along with players Keegan Hirst and Austin Buchanan gave the soldiers an idea of training at a professional club.
It’s claimed that Hirst and Buchanan were there to explain some of their coach’s expressions.