An encouraging first-half display came to nothing as Whitehaven failed to emulate their Challenge Cup victory of two weeks ago against Dewsbury and get their Championship campaign off to a winning start.

For 37 minutes there was every reason to be optimistic that Gary Charlton’s men could replicate that 23-16 success that took them through to round two of the famous knock-out competition. But a burst of three Rams’ tries either side of the interval swung the contest in the West Yorkshire side’s favour and Haven never really got into top gear again.

A fair proportion of the opening period was spent tenaciously defending with the home side shading possession and territorial advantage but the West Cumbrians’ rearguard action was impressive enough to suggest they could add to the spectacular 13th minute try from lively Australian winger cum fullback Lachlan Walmsley.

Then one moment’s hesitation before and a couple of missed tackles after the break gave Dewsbury the confidence to take the game away form their opponents and seal the win.

Haven handed a debut to young Aiden Roden, beginning a month’s loan from Wigan to alleviate the club’s mini hooker crisis in the wake of Callum Phillips starting a four-match suspension for a dangerous tackle that led to a red card in the first clash of the sides 15 days before, and Sam Dowsett’s absence through work commitments.

They made six other changes to the starting 13 who were dumped out of the cup at Widnes a week before, including the return of Gregg McNally and skipper Marc Shackley.

Whitehaven weathered early pressure to strike first when slick handling from right to left ended with McNally’s long pass being brilliantly scooped up inches from the ground and then placed across the whitewash by Walmsley, who was unable to convert his own try from the touchline.

Stand off Karl Dixon so nearly put Jason Mossop over for for a score that would have doubled the lead but, having done the hard work by dancing around defenders, the fleet-footed centre failed to ground the ball properly leaving referee Aaron Moore to wave ‘no try’. It was to prove costly as, despite more strong defence, Haven’s rearguard was finally breached when Rams hooker Sam Day dived through a ruck of players to go under the posts and this time satisfy Mr Moore’s close scrutiny. Veteran home captain Paul Sykes, now 39, converted.

Haven began the second stanza on the front foot but two tries in four minutes from Matty Fleming left the Rams firmly in the driving seat and when Dewsbury’s other former Super League half back Liam Finn slotted a drop goal six minutes from time it was all over as a contest.

McNally left the field with a quad problem and Mossop grabbed a late try in the corner but it was purely a consolation by that time.

Dewsbury: Martin, Gabriel, Ryder, Fleming, Oakes, Sykes (capt), Finn, Morris, Butterworth, Garratt, Tomlinson, Knowles, Annakin. Subs: Day, Walton, Magrin, Hall.

Tries: Day (37), Fleming (49, 53),

Goals: Sykes (2/3). Drop Goal: Finn (74).

Whitehaven: McNally, Worthington,Taylor, Mossop, Walmsley, Dixon, Williams, Shackley (capt), Newton, Dawson, Phillips, Gillam, Wilkinson. Subs: Cooper, Roden, Thornley, Walker.

Tries: Walmsley (13), Mossop (75).

Goals: Walmsley (0/2)

Half-time: 6-4

Referee: Aaron Moore