Kelly aims to avoid French semi-final

Dewsbury Rams players celebrate scoring during last Sunday's 35-28 win over Sheffield Eagles in the Kingstone Press Championship. Picture: Simon Hall.
Dewsbury Rams players celebrate scoring during last Sunday's 35-28 win over Sheffield Eagles in the Kingstone Press Championship. Picture: Simon Hall.

Dewsbury Rams coach Neil Kelly has set his side a target of avoiding the possibility of a Kingstone Press Championship Shield semi-final trip to Toulouse Olympique.

The Rams defeated Toulouse 36-34 at Tetley’s Stadium a fortnight ago but they face the prospect of a return trip to France in the semi-finals should they finish fourth and Olympique top the group.

Toulouse are seven points clear of second placed Batley with four Shield games remaining and will be confirmed group winners if they defeat Sheffield Eagles on Monday.

The Rams picked up a fifth straight win, defeating Sheffield 35-28 last Sunday to move within two points of the Eagles, who lie third.

Kelly is keen for his side to overhaul Sheffield and set up a potential sixth Heavy Woollen derby of the season against Batley in the semi-finals.

The coach said: “We still have some work to do to make sure of that semi-final and actually focusing on maybe not going to Toulouse, but we need everybody else to do us a bit of a favour.

“Sheffield are still in front of us in the table, but we will take every game as it comes.

“It’s well documented where the side were when I took charge, but we are a different animal now.”

“Sheffield still have to play Batley and go to Toulouse (this week) and we have a game that we should win on paper.

“I don’t think catching Batley is a realistic target for us, but we have one eye on Sheffield.”

Dewsbury will confirm their place in the semi-finals if they defeat relegation threatened Swinton Lions at Tetley’s Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday.

The Rams remaining three Shield matches see them travel to Batley on September 3, home to relegated Bradford Bulls on September 10 before ending with a trip to second-bottom Oldham.

Sheffield have a tougher end to their programme as they face Toulouse and Batley, along with games against Rochdale and Bradford.

Kelly was delighted with the win at Sheffield and added: “I (was) ecstatic and really proud of the players, as they put in a real shift.

“I wondered if it would be a game too far for them after the exertions over the last few weeks, but they have even surprised me.

“The (players) were even a little bit disappointed in the changing room, as they felt they made the job harder than it needed to be. When you have a team that takes so much pride in their performance, it shows how lucky I am to have this team.”

Kelly also praised the performance of scrum-half Domninic Speakman in the win over Sheffield.

Speakman stepped in for the injured Gareth Moore and produced a man-of-the-match performance, while also grabbing a a 30th minute try which helped Dewsbury into san 18-10 half-time lead before they went on to secure a 35-28 triumph.

Kelly said: “ We lost Gareth through injury, but Dom Speakman (was) immense.

“He nearly got longer at scrum-half last week, but he’s come in and martialed the team around the pitch.

“He came into the play when he needed to and stayed out when he didn’t need to and his kicking to touch was really, really good.

“His overall game management was really good and I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Tickets for the Rams presentation night, which takes place at Tetley’s stadium on Tuesday September 12 (start 8pm), are on sale from the club priced £5.