AFTER WINNING every available domestic honour, Danny McGuire has a new golden memory to savour.
The former Leeds Rhinos star, who is Super League’s top try scorer and one of its most decorated individuals, proved even in his final season he can still be a match-winner when he set up and then scored Hull KR’s golden-point clincher in a 27-26 victory over Castleford Tigers two days ago.
It was a precious success for Rovers in their battle against relegation and McGuire described the decisive moment as “pretty special”.
Nineteen seasons of top-flight experience came to the fore in extra-time when he landed a 40-20 kick to give Rovers field position close to Tigers’ line and then cooly slotted over the winning goal on the next play.
That’s what we’ve not done this year, played well consistently, two or three weeks on the bounceDanny McGuire
“I was thinking about a 40-20 earlier in the game, but I didn’t get an opportunity,” revealed the evergreen 36-year-old. “It seemed to come to me in the right area and I struck it well.
“Then the drop kick, it [the first tackle] is the perfect time to do it, but you’ve got to nail it or if you miss you look like an idiot. There were a few things in my mind telling me not to do it, but I thought these are the times when you have to stand up and have a dig. Luckily it went over.”
Both teams took and then lost what could have been a match-winning lead and McGuire reflected on a “good game, a tough game in really warm, sapping conditions”.
He said: “It was pretty similar to how we’ve played this year, we got in front, went behind and then showed a bit of resilience and character to get back in the game and win it at the end. It was really pleasing to get the win against a good team and it was a big result for us.”
Rovers’ eighth victory of the campaign moved them level on points with Huddersfield Giants, Wakefield Trinity and Leeds Rhinos, two ahead of bottom club London Broncos.
With five games remaining the job is by no means done, but Rovers have secured some breathing space, as well as dragging the three teams immediately above them back into the mix.
“We just need to look after ourselves,” stressed McGuire. “We just want to play well. I thought the new lads who came in, Jez Litten and Dean Hadley, were brilliant and our middle boys worked really hard. We were a bit light, missing Mitch Garbutt and Kane Linnett, but across the board everybody dug in and that’s what you need in that type of game.”
Hull KR got of to a dream start, opening a 12-0 lead inside 13 minutes, but found themselves 26-14 adrift soon after half-time. Castleford were then in total command and the scoreline stayed that way until the around the hour mark when Ben Crooks, a former Tigers player, scored back-to-back tries to level matters.
The Robins’ refusal to throw in the towel was a positive sign, according to McGuire.
“It could have petered out,” he admitted.
“They scored a couple of tries off kicks and an interception, but I thought we defended pretty well for the majority of the game.
“We have got lots to be happy with, but still plenty to work on.”
Sunday’s result maintained the loss-win sequence Rovers have been in since Tony Smith took over as coach exactly two months ago, but McGuire knows being able to pick up back-to-back victories is key to them pulling clear of relegation danger.
“That’s what we’ve not done this year, played well consistently, two or three weeks on the bounce,” he said.
“We have got a few bumps and bruises and a short turnaround so it is a challenge, but we will go to Wigan on Friday and give it our best shot.”
McGuire will hang up his boots at the end of this season so every game is precious, whatever the result.
He enthused: “I am loving it, making the most of every minute.
“It was tough out there [on Sunday] but when you are celebrating and singing the song at the end that makes it worthwhile.”
There could be a new face in Rovers’ team on Friday after they paid Championship side Dewsbury Rams an undisclosed fee to sign former Wakefield Trinity forward Kyle Trout.
Ever-present for Dewsbury this year, Trout made 23 top-flight appearances for Trinity from 2012-2015.
He said: “I’m really excited to get another crack at Super League. I’ve had a few years in the wilderness now so it’s great to be back.
“I’ve worked with [Hull KR assistant coach] James Webster at Wakefield before and things didn’t work out for one reason or another, but now I get another chance.
“I have the opportunity now and it’s up to me to take it. I want to prove some things to myself, as well as everybody else, I am good enough for this level. I am looking forward to getting to work with my new team-mates now and I’m playing for a deal for next year.”