Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Thunder Look to Raise Bar; 'We're Ambitious and Moving in the Right Direction'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Thunder Look to Raise Bar; 'We're Ambitious and Moving in the Right Direction'

Article excerpt

Gateshead 6 St Helens 66

LEAKING 12 tries and scoring one is never likely to please, but Steve McCormack was relatively satisfied with Saturday's St Helens defeat, writes NICK PUREWAL.

Gateshead Thunder's head coach admitted after the Challenge Cup quarterfinal that he knew his side faced a huge struggle to compete, but having watched his plucky players mix it with some modern greats, he said it is time to raise the standard. Braces from Matt Gidley, Paul Wellens, Leon Pryce and Chris Flannery were backed up by scores from Matt Ashurst, Paul Roby, Maurie Fa'asavalu and Kyle Eastmond. Sean Long landed his 1,000th St Helens goal, but the visitors were put under real pressure towards the close of the first half.

Ben McAlpine might have thought the chance to make his mark had passed when he could not latch onto his grubber through as the whitewash loomed. But having shipped seven first-half scores, Thunder pushed the pace with the break imminent, and the big Aussie centre raced in for an interception score.

After the turnaround Saints closed out the game, running in five routine scores to book their place in the semi-finals. But despite the score, Thunder can be very pleased with their effort against effectively Super League's toughest outfit. But in the immediate aftermath McCormack told his players to heed some important lessons, and take them back into the Championship campaign.

Life gets back to normal on Sunday as Thunder host Toulouse at Gateshead. No 4,000-plus crowd will encircle the athletics track, but McCormack believes he and his team will have won over some fresh faces in the week just passed.

"There's no disgrace in that performance or result at all," McCormack said, "it was always going to be tough, I'm a realist and I've watched Saints more than anyone over the last four months.

"We'll learn from that. I thought we competed for long periods of the game, but then Saints, as they do, hit us with three or four quick tries, and that's something they do against top Super League sides. …

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