Welham debut in crunch clash

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NEW signing Liam Welham is set to make his debut as Dewsbury Rams seek more vital league points in their Co-operative Championship game at Toulouse tomorrow evening.

Former Featherstone man Welham joins a squad who gained their first league win in 13 outings when they held on against Barrow last week.

It moved Dewsbury up two places to third bottom and enables them to put real pressure in the safety zone on York, who are only two points ahead with a much inferior points difference.

Dewsbury were edged out 40-38 at Toulouse in the Northern Rail Cup at the start of the season and coach Warren Jowitt feels they can turn the tables this time.

He said: “The win over Barrow was just what we needed. We knew we had to shoot out of the blocks and hit them early. If we keep doing that teams will struggle against us. We also had key players back in Rob Spicer and Pat Walker and the new lads made a big impact, especially Steve Crossley, who gave us another dimension.

“Rob Spicer played at centre but he’ll be back in the pack in France and Liam Welham will come into the threequarters. With Richard Fletcher sorting things out up front, last Sunday was a very impressive performance for about 70 minutes.

“We blew up late on because we hadn’t played for three weeks - some players a lot longer than that - and we were unlucky when Richard Chapman was sin-binned in the crucial last 10 minutes.

“You can get away with losing a player early on when all the players are fresh but in the closing minutes it’s hard work because everybody is tired. But we got the win and can build on that. The spirit in the team has always been good and they were tired but buzzing after the game.”

Spicer was playing his first game for eight weeks after a broken leg and was up against Barrow’s strapping centre Liam Harrison. He stood up well to some no-nonsense tactics and scored a cracking try when he tore onto a well-judged pass from Dominic Brambani.

Jowitt observed: “Rob will stand up to anybody, in fact I wouldn’t fancy him running at me for 80 minutes and he did a great job.

“Richard Fletcher has made a big difference. He sorts the lads out on the field, is aggressive and his talking in the dressing room is very effective. You need his sort of experience. When we took him off for a rest we suddenly lost our grip and you could see the difference when he went back.”

There was also praise for winger Michael Wainwright, who scored two tries and was heavily involved as he drove the ball in. Jowitt enthused: “That was his best game of the season and what a time to do it. His early tries got everybody going and his readiness to come inside so often took a lot of work off the forwards. It was a great effort.”

Toulouse have had a mixed time since it was reported they were returning to the French League. They conceded 90 at Featherstone, won at York, played well at Widnes despite losing and were 28-28 at Halifax until a disputed try helped the home side to a 44-28 win.

They will obviously be a threat on home soil but the Rams are in the mood to complete a first double of the season.