Old Hales urged to build on derby win
Director of rugby Dan Grant has challenged Old Halesonians to make last Friday’s derby win at Dudley Kingswinford the start of a perfect finish to 2018.
Grant believes the 24-22 victory at Heathbrook is the type to breathe fresh life into a season which had been on the slide after a run of four games without a win.
A late Wayne Cooper try saw Old Hales stun their promotion-chasing rivals, who had entered the contest off the back of a big win at Midlands 1 West leaders Newbold.
Grant said: “We need to use this result and we need to use it now. If we let it pass and let our standards drop again then it will have meant nothing.
“We have three games left between now and Christmas and the challenge we have set the players is to win them all.
“We certainly have the quality to do that but we must approach it with the right attitude.”
Grant was encouraged by the reaction of his players after the week of soul-searching and stern words which followed a hugely disappointing 20-20 home draw with Droitwich.
He said: “We all agreed the performance against Droitwich was not acceptable.
“I think a few of our players thought that game was won before it kicked off and we paid the price.
“There were some stern words delivered and we gave the lads a bit of time to reflect on where we were.
“We only had one training session in the week but we didn’t leave the training field until everything had been resolved.
“In addition to that, we were able to select the right people in the right positions.
“A Friday game at DK is always going to be an opportunity for us. It’s the kind of occasion which suits us and something we enjoy.”
Grant’s opposite number Neil Shillingford pointed to a number of factors for what was just DK’s second league defeat of the season, including the time of day.
He said: “For some reason we have struggled a bit this season when playing under the floodlights.
“The conditions are a bit different to what you usually get. It can be particularly tough to track the ball coming out of the lights and Old Hales kicked it very well.
“We were also guilty of getting sucked into the atmosphere of a local derby and that probably played into their hands.
“On top of that, I wasn’t too impressed with the officials. For some reason on Friday nights we get a team of three and I have to say the standard has not been good.”
Consolation, of sorts, for Shillingford came in the fact his team still managed to take two points from the game and they remain well placed in third, just three points behind leaders Bromsgrove.
A testing trip to Stoke now awaits on Saturday and the director of rugby has told his players they must quickly move on.
He said: “There is no point dwelling on it. What is done, is done. We are still right up there in the mix.
“We’ve got another big game coming up at the weekend. Stoke’s pitch tends to get quite heavy at this time of the year and that makes it a particularly tough place to go.
“We have managed to bounce back from defeat before. Now we just have to do it again.”