Back on top of the tree

Date published: Monday, July 20, 2015
OLDHAM’S ¬†exciting season in the new, 14-club League One hit a new high following their 32-6 win at London Skolars.

Thanks to Keighley’s 22-14 home defeat by mid-table Swinton, Scott Naylor’s men are back on top of the tree, but this time with a two-point lead and better for-and-against stats.
North Wale Crusaders, who have beaten Roughyeds twice this season in cup and league at Whitebank, have crept up to third, three points behind the leaders but, like Keighley, with a game in hand.
And Oldham’s next two outings are North Wales away on Sunday (2.30pm) and Keighley at Whitebank seven days later (3pm) —- games that will go a long way to deciding which two sides will contest the 1 v 2 play-off with promotion as the prize.
The losing team then goes into another play-off with teams finishing 3, 4 and 5 to determine who fills the second promotion spot.
“To win in Wrexham (against North Wales) we’ll have to play a lot better than we did in London, but I think its fair to say we owe ’em one,” said Naylor.
At the end of March, Crusaders won 18-16 at Whitebank in the semi-final of the iPro Sport Cup, which they went on to win by beating Swinton in the final, and in early June they won here again in the league, 38-28, thanks to two tries by Warrington’s dual-reg wing flier Kevin Penny.
That was the last game Oldham lost, their win in London yesterday taking them out to six victories in a row against Oxford, York and Rochdale at home and Swinton, Gloucester and London away.
They are the form team of the competition and they won at Skolars with only one dual-reg man in the 17, Oliver Roberts, and no loan signings, although David Hewitt of St Helens was 18th man.
New signing Richard Lepori, who was with the Italian squad in the Ukraine this weekend, will be available for selection against North Wales, as will Sammy Gee if he has recovered from the back injury that kept him out of the London game.
Club captain Lewis Palfrey was taken off with a dead leg near the end, but Naylor said it was merely a precautionary move.
He added: “A few of the boys will need treatment this week, one or two of them having hurt their ankles on the artificial pitch.”
Among those needing running repairs during a tough, physically-demanding game — not necessarily due to the pitch — were two-try Michael Ward, George Tyson, Roberts, Palfrey and Steve Roper.