Dewsbury showed the template needed to beat Toronto, but still couldn't stop the Wolfpack

05 March 2019 - Written by Zack Wilson

Toronto Wolfpack continued their unbeaten start to the season on Sunday, beating Dewsbury Rams 22-17 at the Tetley’s Stadium.

That scoreline does not tell the full story of the game, though, as the Rams were leading 17-4 with 15 minutes remaining.

Three late tries sealed a win for the Wolfpack, but they came close to losing the game.

Dewsbury showed other clubs that there is a way to beat the Wolfpack.

There are no magical secrets to it, you need to stick to your gameplan, execute all basic skills well and make sure your tackling is outstanding.

In Michael Knowles, Dewsbury also have one of the consistently best players in the Championship over the last decade.

A back rower of immense workrate and skill, Knowles played at halfback on Sunday in the absence of Simon Brown.

Knowles is like a Championship version of Sean O’Loughlin – a player who seemingly can play in any position and still turn out a nine out of 10 performance.

He came close to steering his team to a well-earned win, but it was one of the Wolfpack’s fringe players who seemed to spark the Canadian outfit’s revival.

Ryan Brierley emerged from the bench late in the second half and played a key role in the victory, scoring one try and adding a touch of lively creativity to the Toronto side.

It was his first appearance of the season, and he was very pleased to be able to help his side to a win.

“We were pretty poor first half,” Brierley admitted after the game.

“’Mac’ [coach Brian McDermott] put a rocket up us at half-time, to get us back to what we’re capable of.

“I think we were still a bit scrappy at times. Anyone who has played here before knows that any win at Dewsbury is a good win.

“These are more satisfying than the 60-0 wins for sure. Hopefully we can move onto Toulouse next week with a better performance.

“It’s nice to be back out here. I love playing rugby league, especially for Toronto Wolfpack, so it’s nice to get back out on the field and do what I do.”

Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott acknowledged that his side’s attitude had not been right at the start of the game.

“I don’t think we were tough at all that game,” he said.

“I don’t think we wanted to play with an attitude that Dewsbury certainly brought.

“I’ve got a huge amount of respect for what Dewsbury did today, and it wasn’t the referee, it wasn’t the weather, it’s just that there was a scenario today, and to meet that scenario and come out as winners, you have to play a certain way.

“Dewsbury’s defence was awesome, it didn;t let our team create to muc, and they carried the ball a bit too strong for us. It found us out a little bit – no, it found us out a lot.

“We needed a shift in that momentum in that game for sure.

“For the final 15 minutes we looked okay, and eventually came out on top.

“I’m not sure if I should be pleased or treat it like a loss.”

McDermott also expects Brierley to play more of a role for the rest of the season.

“First game in ages for Bob Beswick, first game this year for Ryan Brierley and Nick Rawsthorne,” he said.

“So a couple of blokes blew some cobwebs out, but we’re going to need those blokes in these next few weeks.”

Next up for the Wolfpack is a trip to France to play Toulouse Olympique in the swish surroundings of the Stade Ernest Wallon.

The 19,000 capacity ground usually hosts Stade Toulousain, the local Top 14 rugby union outfit.

It should be a great occasion, but also a real challenge for McDermott’s men. It will be interesting to see what transpires.

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