Newsome Panthers lost their first game in two years last Saturday. They were defeated 24-14 by the Fryston Warriors. Boss Richie Hawkyard insists while the loss was disappointing the defeat now lifts the burden of the unbeaten run from the players’ shoulders.
The team hadn’t lost a single game since Hawkyard had been appointed – and that was over 50 games ago! In that time they have won the Division 2 League Shield, the Division 2 Grand Final, the Holliday Cup, the League Cup and the Supplementary Cup.
However, after promotion, Saturday was the first taste of defeat for the impressive Panthers. Despite the loss the Panthers remain in top spot in the Yorkshire Men’s Rugby League Premier Division.
On the loss Hawkyard said: “We just weren’t at the races and didn’t stick to the game plan at all. We were poor all round. We tried to come back but in the end left it too late.
“Fryston are a top team in this league and so we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We had just beaten Doncaster and Westgate, the top two teams from last year. So the players were very confident going into the Fryston game but the defeat shows we can’t just turn up expecting to win. You have to really put a shift in. Everyone we face is out to beat us at this level, we are their cup final.
“We went over the video as a group and obviously talked about a few things. The players felt very down after the game but in a weird way it might do us some good.
“We’ve got that first loss out of the way now and so the players don’t have to worry about it. We just have to put it behind us and get on with things now. We’ve picked the lads up in training and told them they are a good team and even the best of teams have a blip.”
The Panthers’ next game is a Yorkshire Cup quarter-final clash at Westgate Common on Saturday April 29 (2.30).
Hawkyard is looking forward to the fixture and is looking for a response from his players after the defeat to Fryston.
He said: “We want to give a good account of ourselves in the cup and if you win it you get a chance to play in next year’s Challenge Cup, that’d be an unbelievable achievement for Newsome.
“However we have a very tough game against Westgate in the quarter-finals first. Yes, we have beaten them already this year but this time it’s on their patch, they have a small pitch which they play well on.
“It’s going to be difficult to play our free flowing style on such a small and narrow field. They have some big pack players so it’s going to be a hard match up the middle. We may need to adapt to that and change our style. It’d be brilliant to win but we know how hard it’s going to be.”