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Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Monday, 7 February 2011

Gateshead Thunder can surprise, says coach Richard Pell

Micky Ward
Back-row forward Ward was among the Thunder players to score a try

Gateshead Thunder coach Richard Pell believes his side have sent a message to their Northern Rail Cup rivals in Sunday's 32-20 defeat by Sheffield.

Thunder responded to a 16-0 half-time deficit with four second period tries to bring the scores within 12 points and earn the club a vital bonus point.

"I think we might have lost the element of the surprise in the way we played," Pell told BBC Newcastle.

"Our season starts now and players are putting shirts on their backs."

Pell added: "How they're performing now decides whether they keep those shirts."

The match was played on a heavily-waterlogged surface in teeming rainfall, making handling errors a frequent occurrence for both sides.

"Rain and heavy conditions can be a bit of a leveller, but it's a game of rugby on a field, and you've got to adapt to every situation," Pell continued.

"That was the situation today, and perhaps we adapted a little bit better even thought they came out with the result.

"The forwards have put a massive stint in against a very good Sheffield side, and for them to go toe-to-toe with them, and set up a platform to allow the backs to play, you've got to take your hat off to the forwards.

"But everybody has put a shift in and put their shoulder to the wheel today."

Thunder travel to Workington Town in the Northern Rail Cup on Sunday, 13 February.

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