DEWSBURY RAMS are celebrating Kingstone Press Championship survival following their 35-28 win over Sheffield Eagles in the Shield.
It has been a remarkable fightback by Rams after they lost their opening eight league games. After beating Batley Bulldogs in Neil Kelly’s first game as coach they lost their next four matches, but the one-point win over Batley at the Summer Bash in Blackpool began a run of seven wins in 10 fixtures and they are now 10 points clear of second-bottom Swinton Lions with four rounds remaining.
“We are mathematically safe now and I think it [Sunday’s win] went a long way towards securing a place in the semi-finals as well,” Kelly said.
“With Rochdale losing in Toulouse they need to win all their games and us to lose all ours for them to overtake us.
“It has also brought Sheffield really into our sights now. They play Toulouse next week and we play Swinton so we could be on level terms with Sheffield this time next week.”
Kelly admitted avoiding relegation looked unlikely during the first six weeks of his reign: “I thought at that point we would be where Swinton and Oldham are now, where week to week they don’t know which of them will be in the relegation place. Fortunately after that initial period the players started to respond, the ones we brought in had an immediate impact and we have gone from strength to strength.
“It has been a case of getting to know each other. I have had to get to know the players in a short space of time and they have had to get to know me. I don’t think they necessarily took to me straight away, because they were resistant to change, but go to Dewsbury now and, for the time being, everybody’s got a smile on their face, which is good.”