DEWSBURY RAMS coach Lee Greenwood says there were more positives than negatives to take out of his first win as boss.
They beat fellow Championship side Featherstone Rovers in the first round of the Yorkshire Cup last weekend, and take on Bradford Bulls tomorrow (Saturday) at Odsal for a place in the final.
With the new coach still getting a feel for his largely inexperienced squad, he is pleased to have two more ties against Championship opposition guaranteed to complete their pre-season programme.
“That’s what I want because a lot of these lads haven’t played against Championship teams before,” Greenwood said.
“We’ve got lads coming out of academies who haven’t played any blokes’ rugby, you’ve got lads coming out of amateur who haven’t played professional rugby before, and you’ve got lads from League One.
“You’re seeing it. It was never going to be pretty in the first two friendlies; there’s a lot of scratchy stuff as they’re still getting used to it. It’s a bit of a shock to them, and the only way they get that is by playing against Championship opposition.”
There were plenty of positive signs for the Rams as they followed a narrow derby defeat to Batley Bulldogs on Boxing Day with last Saturday’s 20-14 victory over Featherstone, and Greenwood says that that the two games were a “mirror image” of each other.
“There we got better as we went along and (against Fev) I thought we were alright in the first half, and then it was a poor start to the second half which carried on.
“I suppose (after) losing a man (Robbie Ward) to the sin bin, and then the amount of defending we had to do, we’ve probably done quite well to win that to be fair.
“But again there’s food for thought, some lads have done themselves plenty of favours heading towards the season, and others weren’t quite at the races or ready for this level yet.
“That’s what I knew was going to happen anyway, similar to Boxing Day, so there’s some work to do with people.
“At any point there were probably six or seven lads either playing their first game for ages or playing their first game at this level, so you’re always going to be scrappy.
“I’m not too concerned with some of the not-so-good stuff, and we’ve done well to win there because Featherstone are still a Championship team and we’ve beaten them.”
The Yorkshire Cup format helped produce a dramatic end to the contest, but Greenwood says that every player wants to win regardless of the competition.
“I’ve played in plenty of friendlies myself and you want to win, so even if there wasn’t anything to play for you still want to win.
“You want to be in that hat tomorrow when they draw it, you still want to put your wins together, and obviously there is a trophy at stake, so I’m sure the fans will have enjoyed that we’ve won and we’re through to the semi-finals.
“Everyone’s playing three games anyway, so you might as well have a crack at winning all three rather than losing all three.
“But the big picture is we’re gearing up for when the season starts, so within that there were what might look to a neutral as random decisions, people swapping sides and coming off, not coming back on, playing 40 minutes here and there, but that was all part of the plan.”
The Rams registered four tries and came up with some strong defence when required, and Greenwood acknowledged the good signs from his sides at both ends of the pitch.
“The defence was good,” he said. “I was disappointed with a couple of tries in the second half, but I thought in the first half we defended really well on our line.
“In the second half we looked a little bit loose out on our right, so there are areas to work on but it’s always better to have areas to work on after a win.”
He added: “What I liked was that when we did get put under pressure and had a lot of defending to do, we came through it stronger and actually managed to score a nice little try in the far corner.”
However, he was most pleased with the try scored in the second half by Jordan Andrade, one of the standout individuals for the Rams.
“I liked Jordan’s, because it was the first time we put an organised set together without making it up as we went along,” he said. “We organised throughout the set and finished with an organised play to score the try as well, so it looked quite good.
“We’ve got some big boys in there and they’re quite hard to defend against when they put it together (and they are) organised.
“I always knew that Jordan was good enough ball in hand to cause problems, and he’s proven that in the first two friendlies. They are only friendlies though, and let’s not think that other teams aren’t swapping and changing as well, so there’s still a long way to go but it’s a promising start.”
Dewsbury now look ahead to tomorrw’s semi-final clash at Bradford (kick-off 5.30pm), who impressively defeated Halifax last weekend to reach this stage of the competition.
With no fresh injury worries to report, Greenwood will look to balance the need to give the rest of his squad a chance with the desire to build a winning run.
He said: “Some of the guys who have played in two friendlies now might get a breather, but then now we’ve won this one we want to get a bit of momentum going and we want to win the next one as well.
“We’ll put a team out and go into it to win it.”