Rugby League: Gateshead seek clarification

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The Independent Online
GATESHEAD, STILL seething over the glut of penalties that they believe cost them their last game at Warrington, have asked the Rugby League to study the video and tell them where they went wrong.

The new Super League franchise lost at Wilderspool after leading for most of the game despite an 18-5 penalty count against them.

"We can't get the points back and we don't want to be whinging Aussies," said the Thunder's chief executive, Shane Richardson. "But we are concerned, because it seems that playing at home can be such a big advantage."

It is Gateshead's turn to be at home today, but Richardson says that their supporters, still new to the game, do not exert the same influence on referees. "It was a cauldron at Wilderspool," he said.

Gateshead have doubts over Andrew Hick and Adam Maher, while their opponents Halifax, who have shown few signs yet of last season's form, might welcome back Kelvin Skerrett and Chris Chester.

Going to Wigan when leading them in the table will not be the only novel experience for Warrington tomorrow. The Wigan team will also add to the air of unfamiliarity.

Injuries have forced John Monie to pair Andy Farrell and Jason Robinson at half-back, with Wes Davies at full-back for Kris Radlinski, who is to see a specialist about a knee injury that could keep him out for three months.

"It's a bonus for us," said the Warrington coach, Darryl Van de Velde. "But they've still got a lot of good players and adaptable players. We can't dismiss them, but we're still going there with a spring in our step after four wins."

Van de Velde hopes that Simon Gillies and the influential Scott Wilson will be fit to return, but Jon Roper's absence for at least another month gives Michael Wainwright the chance to re-establish himself at loose forward, after what his coach calls the best form of his career over Easter.

No club did better over Easter than the Sheffield Eagles, whose two victories have almost persuaded their coach, John Kear, of the virtues of playing twice a week.

"It's turned our season around," he said. "The most that you will be able to lose and get into the top five will be about 10 games, so to have lost four at this stage would put you up against it."

Chris Thorman's reward for the clever kick that effectively won the match against Hull in the last minute is likely to be a return to the reserves when the Eagles meet Leeds tomorrow.

"He did remarkably well because he had been having a bit of a nightmare, but now the thing to do could be to take him out of the firing line," said Kear of the young Geordie. Kear will also be without the injured Steve Molloy but could bring back Matt Crowther.

Two teams without a point, Huddersfield and Hull, meet in what already looks like a crunch match. "I'm still very positive," said the Huddersfield coach, Malcolm Reilly, after their latest defeat, by Castleford on Wednesday night. "I don't think our first win is far away."

Salford, the other team without a point, will find out whether Andy Gregory's regime of 7.00am training sessions this week has done them any good when they face Castleford, while Bradford, stinging from a heavy defeat at St Helen's, could take it out on Wakefield Trinity.