OLDHAM RL Club will be on guard and primed to tackle giant-killers when they face Haydock amateurs, from St Helens, at Bower Fold in the fourth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
The only community club still left in the competition, Haydock have made cup history by becoming the first team from the eighth tier of rugby league to reach this stage – one round before Super League’s big guns come in to take centre stage.
All fourth-round ties will be played over the weekend of March 18 and 19.
Current champions of the North-West Men’s League, Haydock have earned their giant-killing spurs by going to Cumbria in round one and smashing National Conference premier division side Wath Brow Hornets before knocking out BARLA National Cup holders Thornhill Trojans (Dewsbury) at home in round two.
In round three they caused another upset by travelling south and demolishing Wests Warriors, the pride of London and Happy Jepson Trophy winners, at the home of London Skolars.
“What they’ve done so far is fantastic,” said Roughyeds chairman Chris Hamilton. “Congratulations are in order. Of course, it means we have to be on our guard.
“They’ll be coming with nothing to lose and all to gain but, hopefully, our professionalism will see us into the hat for the fifth round.”
Oldham have never been beaten by amateur opposition, but in Scott Naylor’s four-season tenure as head coach they’ve had some tough battles in Cumbria.
Last season, at this stage of the competition, they beat Kells at Bower Fold to earn a crack at the then Super League outfit Hull KR.
In one of the biggest-ever Challenge Cup stunners, Naylor’s men won 36-22 before drawing Warrington Wolves at home in round six and going down heavily.
Said Naylor: “We know from past experience of playing against amateur sides that we have to dig-in and do the business.
“It’s their Wembley, their day in the sun.
“From our point of view, it’s all about attitude and preparation. We will be preparing as we would for a game against Warrington or Wigan.”
The draw was made by Major Jack Duckitt Royal Marines and former St Helens and GB captain Paul Sculthorpe aboard HMS Bulwark in Plymouth.
Hull KR v Sheffield Eagles; Swinton Lions v London Skolars; Bradford Bulls v Featherstone Rovers; Toulouse Olympique v Batley Bulldogs; OLDHAM v Haydock; Gloucester All Golds v Doncaster; Whitehaven v Oxford; York City Knights v Rochdale Hornets; London Broncos v Toronto Wolfpack; Dewsbury Rams v Newcastle Thunder; Halifax v Hunset; Barrow Raiders v Keighley Cougars.
Nearly 42,000 viewers watched Siddal (Halifax) play Toronto in the last round on the BBC website and a fourth-round game will also be streamed.
Tickets for the two-day Bank Holiday Summer Bash at Blackpool, in which Oldham play Rochdale on Saturday, May 27, are now available from the Roughyeds. Season-ticket holders go free. Prices and all other information is given on the club website at www.roughyeds.co.uk