EACH of Oldham’s three Championship games at Bower Fold this season, against Sheffield Eagles, London Broncos and Bradford Bulls has provided gripping entertainment to back-up chairman Chris Hamilton’s belief that second-tier rugby is the most competitive in the sport.
Eagles were beaten 26-10; London’s full-timers snatched a 20-18 win with a late try against the run of play; the Bulls, also full time, were stunned by Kieran Gill’s brilliant last-gasp try which gave Roughyeds a 26-22 victory – their first against Bradford in 23 years.
Having lost both Easter games last year – 42-28 at home to Halifax and 28-18 at Swinton – Roughyeds are determined to do better this time.
The exhausting two-games-in-four-days programme starts tomorrow with Swinton’s visit to Bower Fold (3pm) where Scott Naylor’s men will be aiming to play with the intensity that deserved to beat London and saw off Bradford.
“That’s the plan. It’s down to the players to deliver like they did against Bradford,” said head coach Naylor.
He has hinted that he will use a ‘horses for courses’ policy on team selection and employ all his fit players over the two games.
Squad: Lepori, Turner, Clay, Grimshaw, Gill, Egodo, Tyson, Chisholm, Leatherbarrow, Hewitt, Neal, Gee, Hughes, Owen, Burke, Davies, Ward, Langtree, Thompson, Bent.
He also hopes to have dual-reg lads from Huddersfield Giants.
Promoted together, Oldham and Swinton have lived in each other’s pockets ever since. They had two wins apiece when facing each other last year, the Lions finishing ninth and Roughyeds tenth, split by one point.
Like Oldham, they’ve got injury concerns over Ben Austin, Rhodri Lloyd and Andy Thornley, while Matt Gardner and Matt Sarsfield are out for the season.
Coach John Duffy, interviewed for the Lions website, said: “It’s always tough at Oldham and whenever we meet it’s usually decided in the last 20 minutes.
“We’ve got to be patient, stick together, and maintain our intensity for 80 minutes.”
Club merchandise, Summer Bash and Featherstone cup-tie tickets (discounted up to April 19) will be on sale from main reception (1.30pm to 2.45pm) and from the shop inside the ground (2pm to 2.45).