DEWSBURY boss Lee Greenwood is very clear – this weekend’s game against Rochdale is an “absolute must-win” for the Rams.
In a match rearranged from the first weekend of the season, when a frozen Crown Oil Arena pitch saw the tie postponed, Dewsbury take on a side who have won only one of their 21 matches this season and will have their relegation confirmed if they lose once again.
The Rams are three points ahead of the drop zone and, as the only side in action, can extend that gap and go ahead of both Widnes Vikings and local rivals Batley Bulldogs – if they claim the two points on Sunday (kick-off 3pm).
Having beaten Rochdale 66-10 on home turf at the beginning of June, Dewsbury will head into the match as strong favourites – something Greenwood says his side will need to deal with.
“This is a different challenge for us now, because we have been underdogs in a lot of games this year,” he said.
“We need to make sure we turn up with the right attitude as we have done for the last four games and in a lot of other games this year where we’re ready to work hard from the first whistle.
“It’s an absolute must-win. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that if we win, we’re definitely playing in the Championship next year, but it would be a big step.
“We jump above Widnes and Batley if we win on Sunday which puts them under pressure, and we can then look forward with confidence to the rest of the season.”
Greenwood says his team’s task on Sunday won’t be as simple as it appears though, as he believes Rochdale’s situation could make them more dangerous.
“They know they’re going to go down, so there’s no pressure on them whatsoever,” said the coach.
“What he (coach Matt Calland) has done is give them free range to throw the ball around with no pressure on them to get results. That can cause other teams issues, and it did cause Featherstone some problems (last week). We’ve got to be ready for that.”
The Rams will look to build on another positive result last weekend, when two late Rob Worrincy tries saw them take a draw against Halifax which Greenwood says they were “good value” for.
“We’ve been on the other end of it where we’ve let leads slip,” he said. “It’s the law of averages, if we keep turning up with the right attitude and get stuck in then we’ll get enough points to be where we need to be at the end of the season.”
The result did come at a cost, with centre or second-rower Lucas Walshaw picking up a groin injury and on-loan Leeds forward Dan Waite-Pullan also now doubtful for this weekend.
Hooker Robbie Ward is not expected to recover from his ankle problem in time for the Rochdale clash, but Dom Speakman should be back.
Veteran half-back and former England and Great Britain international Paul Sykes will make his 100th appearance for the club if he features.