In Opposition - Workington Town

In Opposition - Workington Town

25th July 2017

The Kingstone Press League 1 Super 8s explode into life this Sunday, as Newcastle Thunder embark on a seven match campaign to secure their place in the end of season playoffs.

Thunder need to finish either second, third, fourth or fifth to be given the chance of pushing into the Championship in 2018, with Workington Town the opposition that will open this stage of the season.

Sunday’s game at Kingston Park Stadium will be the third meeting between the two sides this season, with Thunder hoping to start their Super 8 fixtures with a win that would make it a clean sweep over the West Cumbrians.

However, both games have been tight affairs and having qualified for this stage on 15 points, Town will be equally keen to start with a win and close the gap to the play-off spots, to keep hopes of an immediate return to the championship alive.

The first meeting between Thunder and Town in 2017 came back in February, in the third round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.

Drawn at home for the first time in five years, Thunder showed plenty of resilience to advance to the fourth round, as they overturned a 0-16 half time deficit to take an 18 – 16 win.

Opening their Kingstone Press League 1 season back over in Cumbria a week later, it was a much more balanced encounter, with the match see-sawing between the two sides and the boot of Benn Hardcastle proving decisive.

In a game where neither side enjoyed an advantage greater than a converted score, it was a trio of conversions and penalty goals that proved the difference, although an on the hooter miss did allow Town a try to reduce the deficit with the last play of the game.

Having been relegated from the Championship 1 at the end of 2016, Workington came into the season as many pundits tip to be one of the division's pace setters and be well in the mix for an immediate return to the second tier of the game.

After starting with that loss to Thunder, wins over Oxford and the All Golds got Town’s season back on track, and while a 26-10 loss away to Barrow Raiders spoiled the possibility of extending their winning run, it was a closer margin than that enjoyed by other teams against Paul Crarey’s side.

Derby rivals Whitehaven took the points and bragging rights when the two sides met in round five through a 20-24 win before Town got back to winning ways with two big victories over South Wales Ironmen and Hemel Stags.

Losing out to Hunslet and Doncaster in the games following however saw the season start to wobble and the gap towards the leading pack grow through a one point win over North Wales Crusaders did allow them to record a win before welcoming the Wolfpack in round 11.

Wins over Coventry Bears and London Skolars, coupled with a draw against Keighley Cougars moved Town into the top eight, though they will be disappointed to have been nilled in their final phase one fixture against York City Knights.  

Players to Watch

Theerapol Ritson – Capped internationally for Thailand, Ritson is one of Town’s brightest prospects. A winger or fullback, his lightning turn of pace and solid defence saw him quickly establish himself as a first team regular for Workington back in 2016.

He posed a major threat during the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie at Kingston Park in February and has made an instant impact on return from injury, with five tries in three games.

Joe Hambley – An off season capture from fellow Cumbrian side Barrow Raiders, Hambley has been one of the key men for Workington during 2017, having played in all but one of the club’s competitive games.

A former England Academy player, he brings pace and power to the side, which he has used to great effect, scoring 17 tries already in 2017.

Jason Mossop – An integral part of the Town squad for a decade, 2017 is a testimonial season for the centre who continues to be an attacking threat for his side, with nine tries from 16 appearances in 2017

A former Castleford Tiger, club captain Mossop joined Town after recovering from a serious wrist injury and will be one of their talismans as they look to push for the playoffs during the Super 8s.

In Opposition - Workington Town