Dons chase points at Gateshead Thunder

Dons' Chris Green puts pressure on the Rochdale attack. Picture: Andrew Roe

Dons' Chris Green puts pressure on the Rochdale attack. Picture: Andrew Roe

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DONS coach Tony Miller is hoping to make up for lost time when his side visit rock bottom Gateshead Thunder on Sunday.

Miller and his men were without a fixture and had a break last week with the Dons boss jetting off to Benidorm for a brief stay.

But his flight back was delayed for six hours and he was unable to return until midnight on Monday.

He said: “It wasn’t too bad but we’ve got a bit of catching up to do because we want to put on a good show at Gateshead.

“Some of the lads came in to do a bit of extra training anyway last week but I think the break will have done the others good.”

The Dons produced their best all round performance of the season in their last match when they beat Oldham 30-0 and Miller is keen to build on that display.

The true worth of that victory was underlined by the fact that Oldham had only lost by two points to runaway leaders Swinton Lions the previous week and bounced back after the Dons defeat with a comfortable 35-18 win over South Wales.

Miller said: “I don’t think Oldham are a bad side at all.

“But we made them look not so good because we played well and we could have won by a bigger score.

“The intensity and line speed we showed against them is the template for how we have to play for the rest of the season.

“Gateshead have been having a bad time of it and we have to be careful to guard against complacency this weekend.

“First and foremost we have to win the game but if we stay focused and switched on then we have the chance to put a few points on the board.

“Gateshead don’t have a great defensive record but they have shown against most teams they can score points themselves.

“We have to show them the same respect as we would any team but we are at our best going forward and we will aim to take the game to them and try and keep them on the back foot.”

He added: “Ball retention is important and we must make sure we don’t turn it over cheaply and get the fundamentals right.”

Miller received a boost this week when he renewed the dual-registration deal for Leeds Rhinos three quarter Michael Coady who suffered a shoulder injury in the defeat at Whitehaven in April and has not played since.

The Dons coach said; “Michael is a good player and we haven’t had the chance to see the best of him yet.

“He’s got plenty of power and strength and it helps improve the competition for places.”

But he received a blow when he heard that dual-registration duo Chris Green and Nev Morrison were set to be available for the next month from Hull, only to find out that the former has a torn stomach muscle injury that requires surgery and could keep him out for six weeks.

Green has been impressive in virtually every game he has played and Miller said: “it’s a blow although I’ve yet to find out the extent of the problem.

“But it’s good news having Nev back and it means we have our strongest squad available for some time.”

The Dons face much improved London Skolars at home in their next match after the trip to Gateshead and Miller said: “They’ve come on leaps and bounds just recently - although I always said they weren’t that bad a side.

“But it just goes to show that you can’t afford to take anything for granted in this league.

“Teams are capable of improving and going through good and bad spells.

“Consistency is the key and that has to be the watchword for us from now on after setting our standards against Oldham.”