Payne hails Thunder resilience

Newcastle Thunder head coach Jason Payne spoke of his satisfaction following yesterday’s Knigstone Press League 1 Super 8 win over York City Knights and is now excited by the prospect of two massive games to end the season in style.

Thunder are two wins away from a return to the Kingstone Press Championship for the first time since 2009 after they booked their place in the end of the season promotion play offs and Payne is relishing the challenge ahead.

He said: “I’m very pleased we’re through. We made hard work of it, with some reoccurring themes in terms of our errors and penalty count, but I’m massively proud of our resilience and how tough we played, so I can’t fault the effort of the lads.

“For a split second after, the overwhelming feeling was one of relief, that we’d realised our potential in terms of getting into the play-offs, but now its excitement. We have such a talented squad and we can do so much. I’m looking forward to us doing what we can do and putting out best foot forward because although it was a good win over York, it is just the start.

“We’ve potentially got two massively tough games ahead starting away at Barrow on Sunday which all the attention is on. I’m excited; I’ve said all along that I believe on our day we can beat anyone.”

His players went incredibly close to doing just that against the Raiders when they met at Kingston Park in mid August, when Thunder fought back from 6-30 down to an agonisingly close 28-30 final score.

And having only clicked towards the end of that fixture, the head coach takes heart from the performance, even though he acknowledges it is Thunder who will have all the work to do.

“We played for 40 minutes last time against Barrow and I think if we can put an eighty minute performance in against them, we have a good chance. That said we’re under no illusions that we are massive underdogs and that they will be massive favourites and it’s going to be tough.”

Details of the semi final, including ticket prices and supporters transport can be found here.