Hornets hoping for Tetley’s Challenge Cup lift
By Liam Williams
Rochdale Hornets will be hoping to record their first win of the season when they take on Championship One side University of Gloucestershire All Golds in the third round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup at Spotland on Sunday (3.00pm).
Newly-promoted Rochdale have lost all three Kingstone Press Championship fixtures this season, and head coach Ian Talbot is welcoming the chance to focus on another competition.
“It is nice to have a break from the league and turn our attentions to something else,” said Talbot. “We’re feeling confident but we can’t take anything for granted.
“I know Brad Hepi well and any team he coaches will be firing and determined to get a good result. They have had a good start to the season so it certainly won’t be easy.
“The step up has been immense. It’s a totally different game in this division and we have not been meeting the demands it requires. We have not been lasting the full 80 minutes and hopefully the lads can get themselves in better shape and we can improve as a team.
“I’ve said to the players what it is they need to work on. They have to work hard and the individuals have to take responsibility for their own performance.”
The fixture represents a rare occasion where the Hornets are favourites, and Talbot is eagerly anticipating the added expectation.
He said: “We are looking forward to going into a game as favourites because it’s not going to happen too often this season.
“We just take each game as it comes, whether it’s a cup game against a Championship One side or a league game, it won’t change how we prepare.
“Ideally if we get through this tie we can draw a Super League side at home and bring some revenue in.”
All Golds forward James Tutuila is expects to thrive on the underdog tag and hopes to capitalise on Rochdale’s slow start to the season.
“It’s been tough for them, as it often is for newly-promoted clubs,” said Tutuila. “But I think they started slowly last season as well, so maybe it just takes them a few weeks to get into the swing of things. We’ll be looking to take advantage of that.
“I think the pressure is off us a bit. You always have to perform to your best but when people aren’t expecting you to get a result it does take some of the pressure off.”
The All Golds only joined Championship One last season, and as such there have been major changes in personnel, but Tutuila feels the side are getting along better than ever.
“The squad is gelling well,” he said. “We have got together a few times, had a couple of barbecues. There’s a lot of good banter and we’re all getting along well.
“Obviously the side had a lot of new players last year with it being a newly-formed side and I’d say we have gelled quicker than last time.”
Tutuila feels the All Golds need to play their part in promoting the game in the South West region, and sees the Tetley’s Challenge Cup as a perfect vehicle to do that.
“Everyone wants to make it to the next round,” he said. “It gives the club more exposure and it gives the game more exposure down here. Rugby League seems to be getting promoted more down south and hopefully we can play our part in that.
“I don’t think anyone really expected anything of us last year but we had a couple of good results and I don’t see why we can’t improve on that this season. It all helps to put us on the map.
“We have recruited well, signing Craig Cook, who has been very successful at Championship level. We got Mark Barlow and we have a lot of players on board who are all willing so hopefully we can go one better than last season, and that can start against Rochdale.”
The Tetley’s Challenge Cup third round tie Rochdale Hornets v University of Gloucestershire All Golds will take place at Spotland on Sunday March 16 (3.00pm). Tickets are priced at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions.
Tickets for the 2014 Tetley’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday August 23 cost from as little as £22 and can be purchased by calling the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk.