Penalties a problem -- 'Spanner'

LEE Spencer, Oldham’s assistant coach, has assured fans that coaching staff and players are working hard on their defensive techniques in order to stem the flood of penalties against them.

Steve Presley, ex-referee and now in charge of Championship and Championship One officials, was at last night’s Bradford Bulls game at Bower Fold where referee Callum Straw caned Roughyeds 11-4 in a 48-4 defeat.

In the previous game at Dewsbury, Joe Cobb pulled up the Roughyeds 16 times, issued a team warning and later sent Gareth Owen to the sin bin for a high tackle.

Said ‘Spanner’ (Spencer): “From the outside it must look like we don’t practice techniques in defence, but we spend hours on it because it’s so important.

“We work desperately hard to get it right, but it’s frustrating when we think we are okay, but we then get pinned. We hear words like ‘discretion’ and ‘dominance’.

“If the ball carrier is ‘dominant’ going into the tackle ‘discretion’ works in his favour. We work to that principle, but we still get a lot of penalties against us.”.

The outcome from that, he said, was to force Roughyeds back on defence for long periods and leave them drained of energy when they eventually do get the ball.

He went on: “We couldn’t fault the lads’ effort. They were out on their feet, due to the penalty count and unforced errors. We also lacked a little bit of nous.

“But we are seriously frustrated because we are having to defend for 50 to 65 minutes of every match and the main reason for that is the number of times we get pinned.

“We’ve got a great bunch of lads and they’re working so desperately hard to put things right. It isn’t every team that is prepared to tackle like we do for such long periods. They never shirk anything and you have to compliment them for that.”

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