Enjoyed my visit to Dewsbury. Thought the ground improvements looked good. It felt friendly and pleasant, and the admission prices were just about right. An excellent start to their season, and good luck to them. Their fans must have been delighted with their organisation and determination.
A tense and enthralling match. Defences were very good; Dewsbury just a bit more organised and secure than Rovers. Their half-backs outplayed the Rovers half-backs, and led their forwards well. Rovers forwards seemed handicapped by poor and badly co-ordinated ball supply. Rovers' inability to score with so much first half possession was worrying. Much of the season will be like this I expect – tense and nervous – the difference between success and relegation will be a matter of fine margins for most teams. And that includes Rovers. I think we'll be a running side and do well in good weather. But we can't get too many wrong.
But for me, the afternoon's entertainment was spoiled by the referee's constant and total failure to keep the defensive line onside at the play-the-ball. It reduces the room for the attack, and virtually eliminates opportunities for creative play, evasive running and the thrilling back-line ball movement which should be an essential part of Rugby League. And it must be a conscious decision; I cannot believe it is incompetence. Referees appear to have been instructed to orchestrate this aspect of the game with their voice, seemingly afraid ever to admit a penalty for defensive offside at the play-the-ball.
The continuing move by the sport towards referees choreographing the game to a proscribed and prescribed pattern is moving me closer and closer to ending my over fifty years of following rugby league.
My view only: most supporters are delighted with the high speed battering contests modern rule interpretations produce.