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Friday, 25 July 2014

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How long is a week in sport?

A WEEK can be just as long in sport as it is in politics. Especially in the past seven days or so for Whitehaven RLFC.

A home win at the expense of Rochdale Hornets – and the sports stadium saga at last drawing to a favourable conclusion – creates much more of a much needed feel-good factor.

A deal on the stadium is all but done, just needs a bit of legal dusting off.

The hope was that glad tidings would be formally announced today (Thursday) in line with the RFL’s own announcement matching World Cup fixtures with venues. Much depends on the legal niceties being tied up.

But the good news is that two World Cup games should be coming to a stadium near you in the autumn of 2013.

Word on the grapevine is that Pow Beck community stadium will host games featuring Scotland, Tonga and Italy.

Meanwhile, on the Recre front, Haven’s 30-10 victory over Rochdale could be described as a sound rather than spectacular way of kicking off the home Championship One campaign. Fit enough to serve before a High Sheriff? In the end I’d say so but thank goodness for those two late tries even though Hornets were a man short.

Anyway some pressure has been taken off head coach Don Gailer and his boys.

In fact from The Don’s immediate post-match comments it seemed that some weight had been lifted from broad Aussie shoulders.

So chuffed was the head honcho that he was off to enjoy a drink with the boys.

He did admit: “We all had a bit of pressure on us to perform today, so it was just good to get a result for everyone. We came up against a good football side in Rochdale.

“I asked the experienced guys to stand up and show the club the way forward, I think they really did. They were on board, excited and played a fantastic game.

“We will have a good night, relax, and look to play a good game next week.”

The return of joint captains, Scott McAvoy and Lee Doran made a big difference; it was also good to see the evergreen Howard Hill back in the fray.

McAvoy’s two late tries put a brighter complexion on the scoreboard which was important in sending the fans home a lot happier.

If dangerous Doran can maintain this form and pack leadership then the recent beatings Haven have taken up front will hopefully become a thing of the past.

Certainly the halfbacks will hope so.

What impressed me most last Sunday was defence. Rochdale didn’t particularly look like powerful promotion contenders but you can only play as well as you’re allowed. Haven’s defensive line speed and offensive defence, especially on their own line, snuffed out the Hornets attack.

We do need to see more attacking flair, which no doubt will come with confidence and momentum from winning.

Wingers, of course, love scoring tries especially if your name is Craig Calvert

Wath Brow’s ex-flyer cruised in for another brace and hopefully there’s going to be many more to come as he chases David Seeds’ all-time club record.

The other wing spot is up for grabs. What’s happening with lightning Loz?

Young Hamzat has great pace and potential which hopefully will be realised this season if we are going to see the best of him in a higher division next term.

Andreas Bauer’s all-round performance vindicated Mr Gailer’s preference to play him at fullback ahead of young Shane Ackerley but there were a few eyebrows raised by the choice of the much-valued Max Wiper on the wing.

Welcome signs of togetherness on the field – at last – but with an official attendance of 714 there too many open spaces on the terraces and in the stand for the directors’ comfort.

But a winning team can make all the difference and Haven must have something to build on.

Nothing taken for granted but with anticipated wins over the amateurs of Hunslet Warriors at home this weekend in the Challenge Cup and Gateshead (away) the following week then it should all boil up to a Easter humdinger with Town coming to the Recre on Good Friday.

As I say it’s refreshing to have that feel good factor.

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