JUST why is it that when it comes to the big occasion, we seem to fall flat?
It happened in our opening home game of the season when over 15,000 watched us fail to perform to our best against Leeds Rhinos, and it then happened again in front of over 12,000 against Catalans Dragons last Saturday.
These were both fixtures when we attracted new fans to the ground, but then just couldn’t come up with the level of performance they deserved.
But it’s not just in games in front of bumper Galpharm crowds when we’ve failed to deliver.
It seems that nearly every time we appear live on Sky TV we get camera shy.
Why this is, we simply don’t know, but over the last few months it’s become something of an issue for us, and is now a major talking point.
Apart from banning Sky from covering our games, I simply don’t know what we can do about it!
But we need to come up with a solution before the start of next season, because we certainly don’t want a repeat of 2008.
We went into the Catalans game full of confidence after such a positive run of results behind us and determined to produce the same level of performance that had brought us those excellent wins at Wigan, Castleford and Hull in our last three away games.
Yet on the day, we slipped back into the bad old habits, making silly errors and gifting the opposition some very easy possession and territory.
At the same time, however, I suppose we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact we were up against the side that secured third spot in Super League on the back of their win. They were clearly a highly motivated side and made life difficult for us from start to finish.
Catalans Dragons may not be the most flamboyant team in the world, in fact some would say their style of play can be a little bit boring, but it can be mightily effective, and who can argue with third place in the table on the back of it.
On attack, they do all the little things right, while on defence they are extremely well drilled and tough to break down.
We would like to think our defence is pretty solid, too, but I would also like to think we show far more flair on attack and give the fans real value for money.
Unfortunately, that attacking approach cost us dear last week, although the wet conditions may have had something to do with that.
But it’s still a policy we intend to adopt once again for this weekend’s game against St Helens.
Another disappointing fact about losing to the French last week was that it ended all hope of a late surge into the play-offs.
However, it means we go into this fixture with no pressure on us at all, and hopefully this relaxed approach will mean we can produce a free-flowing style of rugby that even a side as fantastic as St Helens struggle to match.
I know that’s a massive statement, because Saints are on fire right now and appear to be unstoppable as they marched towards the Super League play-offs.
On top of that, they’ve also got the small matter of next Saturday’s Challenge Cup final against Hull at Wembley.
Because of this, it will be interesting to see exactly how they approach this game against us.
Hopefully, Saints will have one eye on the Cup and this will be our chance to strike.
Nothing would give us greater pleasure than finishing our home campaign with a performance that would give our magnificent and loyal fans something to cheer.
There have been times this season when we’ve made it tough for them, and we can think of no better way to repay that loyalty than with another memorable home win over St Helens.
We’ve done it before, so let’s hope we can do it again on Sunday!
On a final note, I don’t know how many of you saw Sky TV’s coverage of the Gateshead v Doncaster last night, but those who did would have seen me there.
It proved to be a great occasion, with my brother Neil lifting the National League II trophy.
The Thunder have had a superb season under coach Dave Woods, and I am sure being crowned champions and gaining promotion to League I will give the game a major shot in the arm in that part of the world.
And, as a Newcastle lad, I would obviously be delighted about that.