Tony’s comments

Date published: Monday, August 16, 2010

UPBEAT Tony Benson, the Roughyeds’ boss, was delighted with his team’s performance in trouncing derby rivals Hornets RL 44-14 at Whitebank yesterday.

Hunslet’s win at Blackpool finally confirmed what Benson has been building towards for the last few weeks — a second-place finish in Co-operative Championship One and yet another crack at promotion via the play-offs for the fourth time in as many years.

“It was no big deal when news of the Hunslet win came through,” he said, “because it wasn’t a surprise after all. We have felt for some time that we would be going into the play-offs as top of the qualifiers and we have been planning and building our game accordingly.

“We know for sure now that we will be at home on September 12 against the team finishing third.

“These are exciting times for the club. We’ve nearly two weeks off now before we play our final league game at London Skolars and then we will have another two weeks’ break before the big play-off game at Whitebank.

“We set ourselves a number of goals going into the Rochdale game and although I am not going into details I am happy to report that we achieved them all.

“We have stepped up a level in crucial areas. Apart from anything else it was important we beat the old enemy from Rochdale for all our loyal fans and in achieving that so comprehensively it was a pretty good all-round effort.”

Unusually, five of the Roughyeds’ eight tries were scored by prop-forwards with Jason Boults recording a hat-trick and Dave Ellison and Wayne Kerr also crossing the Hornets line.

“You don’t see that very often, do you,” added Benson. “The plan, as always, was to get the props taking us forward, but they just kept going and going until they got to the line.

“A lot of other players were involved in setting up the opportunities for them. Nevertheless, it was a great achievement for Jason Boults to score three and for Dave Ellison and Wayne Kerr to chip in also with tries of their own.

“Dave used to be a centre and he still has pace and a sidestep. Wayne was a winger in his rugby union days and it showed when he powered in from deep inside his own half.

“It was one of those days when everything went according to plan. Boultsy had to come off near the end with a sore rib but in the main we came through without injury worries and that’s something to be thankful for at this stage of the season with the play-offs around the corner.

“All the hype was focused on Jason, Dave and Wayne, but the fourth prop, Chris Clarke, also contributed a lot. He’s a kid who always does everything you ask of him, and a whole lot more.

“What about Ben Heaton, too? He only knew on Saturday morning, when Junior (Marcus St Hilaire) pulled out through injury, that he would be starting at centre. In fact, at various stages of the game he played in both second-row positions and also at loose-forward. He opened up the Hornets for us in the second half and I thought he was brilliant in every task he was asked to perform.

“All the boys are doing everything I am asking them to do and as a coach I can’t ask for more than that. They are enjoying themselves as well and that’s half the battle.

“From now on in every game is a trial and we have to pick our best team.”

John Stankevitch, his Hornets counterpart, questioned the desire of some of his players and conceded that Hornets were well beaten in every facet of the game.

He added: “We had a very simple game plan — nothing complicated at all — but some of my players went hiding. It clearly didn’t mean as much to them as it did to the Oldham players. There were times when we did put in a lot of effort but it was in the wrong areas.

“The players are hurting. They’ve been floored by a knock to the chin and it’s up to us to get back off the floor now, and quickly. We play Blackpool next week so we haven’t time to be feeling sorry for ourselves. “