BELEAGUERED Gateshead Thunder coach Dave Woods went on the defensive after his side slipped to a fifth consecutive Co-op National League Two defeat at the weekend.
Thunder lost 32-12 at perennial strugglers London Skolars who recorded their first ever double over Gateshead and are on the fringe of the play-offs for the first time in their history.
Thunder, by contrast, are marooned in the bottom two with five games to play – including a double-header against free-scoring Welsh championship chasers Celtic Crusaders.
Thunder’s latest setback prompted the former Castleford Tigers coach to respond to accusations of poor preparation for the trip to the capital.
Speaking on the club’s website, Woods said: “Unfortunately when teams are not winning everybody is frustrated by results and people look for easy outs.
“There are a number of things that occurred before going (to London), and whilst there, that will be dealt with, with the players behind closed doors.
“We aren’t in the fortunate position like some clubs where we can drop players and bring others in as we don’t have the players here at present.
“Individually there were some good performances against London from Nick Hyde, Shane Wooden and Tabua Cakacaka, but not as a team and we lost direction.”
Just as at York the previous week, Thunder were in contention throughout in a game switched from the New River Stadium to Finchley.
The Tynesiders led 8-6 at half-time and trailed by only eight points until the Skolars scored two converted tries in the last three minutes.
The final score was harsh on Woods’ side who face another tough game against top-five side Oldham in the penultimate home game of the season on Sunday.
Gateshead’s three tries in the capital were all scored by wingers Robin Peers (pictured) and Graham Stephenson, with the latter touching down either side of half-time.
But while on-loan Castleford forward Michael Knowles missed all three conversions, former Gateshead stalwart Paul Thorman kicked six from six.
Gateshead Thunder: 1 Thorman, 2 Peers, 3 Nash, 4 Williamson, 5 Stephenson, 6 Clarke, 7 Martin, 8 Payne, 9 Smith, 10 Cakacaka, 11 Wooden, 12 Knowles, 13 Hyde. Subs: Till, Doherty, Bradley, Parker
Thunder Tries: Stephenson (28,48); Peers (5)