Today saw a great step taken towards bridging the gap between the Red Star rebel alliance and the Dorcolian empire - or at least overcoming the myth of Dorcol's invincibility (cue Imperial March).
Yes Red Star lost 46-16 (almost mirroring Hull KR's result over London this afternoon), but that's a lot better than the 106-6 thrashing they gave us last time out. In fact, that's probably Dorcol's smallest winning margin in any domestic battle since 2009.
I think our work on trying to teach the players about the bigger picture has paid dividends. They are now not only more aware of the need to hold onto the ball, particularly in key areas, but of the importance of completion rates. They realise that if we complete our sets of 6 and force defensive errors Dorcol will tire; that if we hold our defensive line, communicate and get in their faces when possible, they won't be able to open us up; that if we hit them hard and clean they will go down or lose the ball... because, get this, Dorcol players are made of flesh and blood like the rest of us.
Yes there was a bit of handbags and a sin-binning for both teams, but I saw no deliberately late contact and overall the match was played in a good spirit. I think Dorcol were actually happy to have a bit of a challenge.
Every team in this league now has to concentrate on completing its own sets, running its own lines, making its hits stick and making sure all the players know the team's set goals... Challenging Dorcol will then come on its own.
They remain the benchmark, but now they're only 30 points ahead ...and counting.
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