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On The Pitch

Sheens pleased with winning start to 2018

Head coach Tim Sheens declared himself pleased with a number of factors from today’s 28-6 victory over York City Knights in Ben Cockayne’s testimonial.

Rovers ran in five tries in a comfortable victory at KCOM Craven Park in which they gave run outs to 27 players in the first pre-season friendly of the year, including debuts for new signings Danny McGuire, Tommy Lee, Jordan Walne and Thibault Franck amongst others.

With a stronger starting line-up Rovers led 22-0 at the break with McGuire pulling the strings before a closely fought second half ended 6-6 with Man of the Match Danny Addy’s second try of the game cancelled out by a late consolation for York’s Harry Carter.

Speaking to the press after the match, head coach Tim Sheens said: "I’m really happy with that for a number of reasons.

“Firstly we didn’t come away with any major injuries, which is always the first thing you think about. Secondly we did a lot of hard work in defence, which is not what we planned, but I’d rather us have a game like that than have a blow-out scoreline.

“With a big penalty count against us, and some forward pass calls, we had to work really hard.

“I was pleased with our attitude throughout and the young players did a good job. I think we finished the game with seven academy players on the field and whilst it was a shame the York try came during that period, they all came through very well. They were all pleased just to have 10 minutes on the field, which shows just how good their attitude has been all pre-season.

“We wanted to give plenty of minutes to our senior guys, although I was wary about Danny Addy and some of the boys who’d been involved in the World Cup. I wanted to see Danny and Bobby [Maurice Blair] play centre, and they were strong in that position. Robbie Mulhern would have played more but he was a bit choked up with flu, so he didn’t get as many minutes as I planned, but he was also very strong. I’ve been really pleased with Robbie and I think he’s in good shape to have a very good season.

“Danny [McGuire] doesn’t know the team song yet and doesn’t know a lot of the team plays straight away when he’s under the pump, but I think he took us around the park really well.”

Sheens also reserved plenty of praise for partner outfit York, who tested the Rovers defence on a number of occasions as well as scrambling impressively in the second half to deny further tries.

“York were excellent and I’m really looking forward to working with them. James Ford has done a great job with them and they’re a good side. They threw plenty at us, and they’ve got some players to come back.

“I think they had a couple of their better players missing, and on average we’ll be offering them a minimum of four players a week so I think York are a side who are going to give teams plenty of trouble in that division.”

Photo: Sheens pleased with winning start to 2018