GATESHEAD Thunder approach their Co-operative Championship One game with Whitehaven tomorrow buoyed by their first win in more than a year.
Last weekend’s 28-20 Carnegie Challenge Cup victory over amateur side York Acorn, which earned a fourth-round tie away to Swinton Lions, means Thunder have the chance to record back-to-back wins for the first time since 2009.
Whitehaven, nonetheless, come to Gateshead in decent form after wins over Rochdale and Hunslet at The Recreation Ground.
Gateshead captain Jason Payne (pictured below), believes Thunder have what it takes to record another win, but is under no illusions about the encounter.
He said: “It’s a winnable game, but anyone who knows anything about rugby league or watches it knows that this is always a tough game.
“Whitehaven have a big set of forwards and play the game exactly how it should be played, down the middle.”
The prop, who described the win over Acorn as “ugly”, is back in contention this weekend. He said belief has never been a problem for Thunder’s players, even during their long run without a victory.
“We had confidence anyway, we are always high on confidence and want to be competitive in each game.”
Payne was also keen to praise head coach Kevin Neighbour ahead of tomorrow’s fixture (3pm) at the International Stadium.
“Kevin has been great for us this year, he’s given us direction,” said Payne. “In terms of the table we all know its going to be a tough season and as long as we keep moving forward and improving its good.”
Currently ninth after two games, Thunder will be hoping to kick-start their Championship season. Payne, who has one try to his name this season, said: “We don’t have any set goals (in terms of the league). We want to be competitive and ensure we move in the right direction”.
Thunder will be hoping for a better result than the last time they played tomorrow’s visitors, a 44-18 loss in the Northern Rail Cup in February.