A FAIRYTALE ending to another miserable season was too much to ask as Gateshead Thunder completed their Championship One campaign with a performance – and result – typical of it.
Four days after their first win for two and a half years, it was back to reality with a 56-12 defeat at home to Oldham Roughyeds.
Coach Kevin Neighbour felt there was a certain inevitability about the result.
He said: “Although we didn’t want to use Wednesday (when Thunder beat Workington Town 24-22) as an excuse, we were a little bit slower and behind the pace. Oldham didn’t play last week, so they had almost two weeks off.
“There was a lot of emotion in Wednesday’s win.
“It was like playing in a cup final win, celebrating it – which was fair enough – and playing again a few days later.”
Neighbour did, though, feel his team contributed to their own downfall.
He added: “It probably summed up the season. There were a lot of good things mixed up with a lot of stupid things.
“For the first 20 minutes we were in the contest battling well but two mistakes let them in for tries.
“Just before half-time the score was 10-6, but we went in at 22-6 and it’s a massive chase from there.”
Joe Brown’s first-half try for Thunder was converted by Gavin Beasley, Paul Stamp adding the goal to Brett Waller’s late touchdown.
Oldham’s win, with a hat-trick of Alex Thompson tries and two for Mark Brocklehurst on his 100th career appearance, earned them the final play-off place.
Neighbour will now target the players to halt two years of struggle.
He said: “I have a list in my office of the 18 players I want. If I can get 10 I will be happy.
“I’m looking for players with experience – not necessarily in terms of age but the competitions they’ve played in.
“We could have had more wins if we’d had the experience then that we have now.
“This season will probably help them grow up off the field as well as on.