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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Bitter pill to swallow for supporters

GET here as fast as you can – that has to be message to Glen Nami and Jessie Joe Parker out in the Pacific Islands.

Whitehaven’s star signings are kicking their heels in Papua New Guinea awaiting clearance to come over here and wear the chocolate, blue and gold.

After Sunday’s Derwent Park debacle all I can say is the sooner the better.

Haven probably need them more than they need Haven just at this moment.

Plenty to crow about, of course, when Whitehaven announced the capture of the two current PNG Test back line stars. That was last Wednesday. Come Sunday and the only crowing was done by jubilant Workington Town fans.

Haven supporters were well and truly down in the dumps leaving Derwent Park swallowing the bitter pill of a 44-16 thrashing.

The classy Test duo have to make a difference. But remember the old adage: You can’t play behind a beaten pack.

Haven’s pack on Sunday were not only bested but literally ‘beasted’ by a Town six in pulverising form.

Beforehand Haven head honcho Don Gailer said Town had some ‘pretty big cattle’ – it was Haven’s forwards who were trampled into the Derwent Park turf.

Young Seaton second-rower Brett Phillips shone but for me it was the golden oldie Jamie Thackray who made a huge difference as soon as he entered the arena. This slimmed down ex-Great Britain prop still oozes class.

So Town’s heavy artillery were really up for the fray and gave their backs a platform. I was impressed in particular by scrum-half Carl Forber but I felt sorry for Haven pivot Carl Rudd.

Carl had given an ‘emotional’ speech to help motivate his team mates but despite trying his personal best to prise some gaps (before going off injured) it was to no real avail – thanks to those big Town beasties!

Rudd may well be under threat for the No.6 spot from Glen Nami but if so Don Gailer has other options for him – scrum-half or loose forward, positions to which he’s no stranger.

No naming and shaming from Don this time. The performance was shameful enough.

Don said his players were “hurting really bad, they know they got beat all over the place today....really it went from bad to worse.....all the boys are disappointed, they let everyone down”.

Haven are not living up to the bookies billing as Championship One title favourites – Town, for one, look a better bet – but it’s also fair for a new coach to be given time to blend locals and all these travellers into a fit for purpose promotion force. The pendulum has swung towards the travellers, it doesn’t bother me too much so long as it produces a winning team though Craig Benson’s abrupt return to Kells does rankle with many. Craig was looking every inch the successor to Gary Broadbent at full-back.

Town co-coach Gary Charlton crowed: “We are based around local players with a few travellers because we want to give local lads a chance and they proved to us in this game that they are god enough.” Ouch.

The Don confessed he wasn’t quite as disapp-ointed as his players, or too bothered about the next Cumbrian derby (Barrow’s visit on Sunday). What’s most on his mind is the Championship One opener at Doncaster on March 11. Is this what disgruntled fans really wanted to hear with Town taunts still ringing in their ears?

Right now what they do want is for their embarrassed favourites to seriously step up and take Barrow’s scalp this weekend.

These Barrow Raiders have been doing their own crowing about being Kings of Cumbria after their Northern Rail Cup defeat of Town.

Darren Holt’s boys followed up by beating Steve McCormack's Swinton but it’s down to Whitehaven to show up and knock them down a peg or two.

I expect Haven to make amends – and win.

It’s important for The Don to get his formation right for the Championship but by the same token there’s nothing like winning to give confidence and momentum. So beware of keeping the powder too dry!

Post-match Sunday, Don pulled his critical punches – after all as he said the players themselves were hurting enough in the dressing room – but I can’t help thinking that the team will feel they are on the ropes if they don’t perform (at home) against Barrow.

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