Joyful, yes full of joy. That’s what it felt like leaving Post Office Road last Sunday. Joyful to be back watching a competitive match. Joyful to have beaten Halifax who will almost certainly be one of our competitors for a top four spot. And joyful to watch some of the skills on display from our new signings, something that I am sure will get even better when we get into warmer weather and faster pitches.
There were so many good things in mind to take home. That Ridyard try and some wonderful play by Tom Holmes and, particularly, Connor Farrell to create it. I was a bit dubious about Farrel when he arrived towards the end of the season but now it is looking as if the second row combination of Farrell and John Davies is the best we have had for many years.
Then there was the amazing attacking defence, particular in the early minutes of the match. How good was it to see a Rovers pack bullying the opposition like that! Too often over the last few years it has been our team that has been subjected to strong arm play from opposition forwards.
Highlight of the match
I suppose, for many of you the Ridyard try would have been the highlight but for me, great as that was, it was a different moment that really grabbed me. It came in the first half when Jy Hitchcox picked up the ball in the Halifax 20 and started a great break down the field. Misi was the first to get near him but he held off with some fans screaming at him to make the tackle. But he showed real intelligence in olding off because at that moment, had Hitchcox managed to beat his tackle, a try would have been a certainty. Misi caused him to slow down looking for a route through when the tackle was effected by Richard Moore. All hail a 37 year-old prop forward who has the speed and determination to get back and tackle a break by a really speedy winger. Richard Moore and Misi Taulapapa we salute you for what was our highlight of the match.
And what an impact Mitch Clark made when he came off the bench. Wow! I just hope that we can keep him for longer than his initial one month loan. It is quite emotional watching a player whose father used to be such a favourite when he played for Fev. And, did you know that New Zealander, Mitch was actually born in Pontefract where Trevor was still living although, by that time, he had moved on to join Peter Fox and Deryck Fox at Bradford.
Doing it tough
We now enter into a really tough period. Three out of our next four matches are against full-time teams. Toulouse will be a rather bigger test than Halifax so it will be fascinating to see how we cope. We all remember that terrible first half at home to Toulouse last year when Cook Islander, Johnathon Ford, was brilliant and tore us to shreds, bossing the game from stand-off. Well, Ford didn’t play last week because of a wrist problem. I wish him well because he is a really fine player but will admit that I hope the wrist problem takes a little bit longer to get him ready to play! Toulouse were unfortunate to miss out on the top four last year. It was Fev in the end that kept them out - by losing to Halifax in the last Championship. But even if Ford is missing and, of course they no longer have try scoring Minga, Toulouse have a very good squad. It should be a great game, especially if we start like we did last week.