All systems go for semi-final showdown

Date published: Tuesday, April 7, 2015
OLDHAM head into tomorrow night’s Whitebank semi-final buoyed by Friday’s win at Rochdale, a remarkable home record and the stamina to run opponents off their feet in the second half.

For the third time in five games in cup and league this year, Roughyeds kept their try line intact after half time to beat their derby rivals 23-16 and get their League One campaign off to a bright start.
While tomorrow’s visitors North Wales Crusaders were drawing 14-14 at Swinton, Scott Naylor’s men came from 12-0 and 14-6 down to race to victory on a wet sail with 11 points in the last quarter of an hour.
After a poor and extremely unconvincing first half, Naylor couldn’t have asked for a better response in the second 40 as he looked ahead to the iPro Sport Cup semi-final and the opportunity to extend an unbeaten record on home soil to 14 games.
Said the Oldham boss: “We are a very fit squad thanks to the conditioning the boys have had from Kane Daniels of Huddersfield Giants.
“He’s done a great job for us, but a lot of credit must go to the players who have rolled up their sleeves and worked phenomenally hard for him.
“We’ve still a few things to address, slow starts being one of them. At Rochdale we changed our warm-up routine to see if that would make any difference, but it didn’t appear to, did it ?
“It raises the question: What would we be like if we could start well ?
“I picked from a fully-fit squad and it looks like I’ll be doing the same for the semi-final. Sam Gee got a finger in his eye but other than that we appeared to come through unscathed.
“Crusaders are fancied by many to win cup and league, so I’m expecting a cracker and I hope fans turn up in numbers and get behind us vocally because that’s one way we can capitalise on home advantage.
“To be striving for a cup final appearance at Blackpool in May on Summer Bash weekend is a huge incentive to both clubs and we are really up for it, as I’m sure Crusaders are too.”
Since Naylor took charge at the start of the 2013 season, Roughyeds have been turned over only three times at Whitebank in 24 outings and their last defeat there was by Rochdale in a play-off tie in September of the same year.
Their only defeat in five games this season was away to Championship high-flyers Sheffield Eagles in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and even in that game they “drew” the second half 14-14 with three tries apiece.
In the other four games, all wins, they rattled up a total of 63 second-half points to their opponents eight, scoring 11 tries to one.
Barrow at Craven Park, Rochdale at Spotland and Coventry in one of their two games at Whitebank were all unable to cross Oldham’s line in the second half.
* The semi-final is an all-pay game (normal prices), but uncollected season tickets will be needed for Sunday’s first home league game against Coventry and these can be picked up from the refreshment trailer inside the ground from 6.30pm to kick-off. Orders for replica shirts will also be taken.