A WIN tomorrow would take much of the pressure off Dewsbury Rams going into the final quarter of the season, coach Neil Kelly reckons.
Rams, who lost their opening eight league games, have climbed to fifth from bottom in the Kingstone Press Championship, four points outside the relegation zone.
Victory over Sheffield Eagles (3pm) would secure eighth place at the end of the regular season and earn them four home games in the Championship Shield, with all the teams below them having to play four away and only three on their own turf.
“We wouldn’t be safe by any stretch of the imagination,” Kelly warned. “But if we win we can certainly breathe a bit easier and approach the play-offs in a different state of mind.
“We see that as important, not playing a nervous style of football – we would be able to express ourselves a bit more.”
Sheffield are set to finish seventh and Kelly is expecting a tough game.
Rams have won half their 14 league games under Kelly and six of their last nine.
But they were beaten 48-12 by Eagles in his second game and the coach warned: “I watched them against Oldham last week and they were very good value for the win.
“It is going to be a difficult game. They beat us easily earlier in the year, but we are playing better now and we have got slightly different personnel. I think it is going to be a great game.”
Meanwhile, Kelly reckons the signing of forward Michael Knowles from Featherstone Rovers on a deal until the end of next season is a “statement of intent”.
He said: “He’s a great signing for us. Players of his quality don’t come up very often and signing him sets down a marker of our intentions in the longer-term.
“We have been planning short-term up to now, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We are not taking anything for granted, but sooner or later we had to start looking beyond the end of this season to next year.”
Recent recruits Tom Ashton – an ex-Sheffield and Oldham forward – and Tom Halliday, from Goole Rugby Union Club, have both joined Rams’ League One partner club Hemel Stags on loan.