IMPROVEMENT is top of the agenda for Whitehaven RLFC ahead of their clash with Newcastle Thunder this weekend.

Training sessions since Haven’s last match against Dewsbury Rams have been focusing on defending and retaining the ball.

The side’s coaches hoped to tighten up on these aspects of their game as they advance in a competitive Betfred Championship season.

Head coach Gary Charlton said: “We’ve done a bit of ball work and a bit of defensive work. We only get them twice a week for an hour-and-a-half session.”

Charlton said that although the limitations on training sessions during the coronavirus cause a challenge, the side are always working hard to up their game.

“I can’t knock our boys – I think they go out and give their best every time.”

Although it was a losing battle, Whitehaven RL put on a defiant and game performance against a tough side in Widnes Vikings in late March – their last game in this year’s 2021 Betfred Challenge Cup.

“We’ve got to get our own house in order before we worry about anybody else’s” said Charlton, who has identified some of his squad’s errors during the Dewsbury Rams loss in the Championship.

He said: “We made a couple of errors and that comes back to bite you. In any sport you play, if you do all the basics right you probably end up with a good product at the end of it. At the minute we’re giving up the ball too much and missing too many tackles.

Charlton said: “If you don’t do all the little things, what you end up with are big things like points scored against you.”

The Betfred Championship is already heating up. Haven will welcome Newcastle Thunder to the Recreation Ground this Sunday before facing Featherstone Rovers, a formidable side, on Sunday April 25.

Charlton’s squad then face the Bradford Bulls on Sunday May 2.

There could be fireworks between Newcastle and Haven, streamed live on the OuRLeague app from 3pm. The North East side last faced Widnes Vikings, recent foes of Haven’s, in a thriller that ended in a 30-30 draw.

Charlton and assistant coach Jonty Gorley can put a strong side for the clash.

In addition to names like Tom Walker, Andrew Dawson and Liam Cooper, they have recently added Oscar Thomas and Andy Thornley. Aiden Roden has been signed from Wigan Warriors on a loan spell to make up for Callum Phillips’ four-game absence and Sam Dowsett’s departure.

Charlton was impressed with Roden in his first appearance for Haven during the Dewsbury game.