Benson challenges players

Date published: Friday, August 3, 2012

OLDHAM RL boss Tony Benson has challenged his players to show what they’re made of at Barrow on Sunday.
The table-topping Raiders have clinched promotion already and are now gunning for the Championship One title.
Barring a miracle, Roughyeds will again be in tier three next year, but with four games to play and with London Skolars coming up on the rails, they need more wins to clinch a top-six play-off spot.
“We’ve still a lot to play for,” said Benson, “and the challenge for us this week, after two wins in a row, is to see if we can move up to another level and get back to being the side we were in early season.
“We beat Barrow twice at Whitebank in April before all the injuries started to kick in.
“More recently, we’ve been improving steadily as players have come back and now it’s time to take the next step as we push for the play-offs.
“We showed what we could do early in the season, and now we need to step up to the mark and show what we can do again.”
Benson will take 19 players to Craven Park, including prop Luke Stenchion, who has played little rugby all season because of two long-term injuries.
The loss of dual-registered Daniel Smith back to Leeds, coupled with David Ellison’s ongoing work commitments, has significantly reduced Benson’s fire power in the engine room of any rugby team — the front-row.
In an ideal world Stenchion would have started his long haul back in the reserves at Halifax last night, but it was decided instead to hold him back and to include him in the first-team squad as Smith’s replacement.
The squad comprises the 17 who played in the win in South Wales last time out, minus Smith but with the addition of Stenchion, full-back Miles Greenwood and the 18th man in Wales, Martin Roden.
On-loan winger Rob Foxen has been passed fit after groin trouble, but Greenwood (back) and centre Mark McCully (knee) will both be checked out at training tomorrow before Benson finalises his 17.
He is quietly confident that both players will come through, in which case McCully will almost certainly keep his place at left-centre and Greenwood will no doubt get the nod again at full-back after missing the Neath trip because of urgent family reasons.
Squad: Murphy, Greenwood, Foxen, Cookson, McCully, Gillam, N Roden, Dallimore, Boults, Clough, M Roden, Gilchrist, Stenchion, Clarke, Noone, Smith, Ward, Bentley, Thompson.
Raiders coach Darren Holt has confirmed that he has officially retired as a player in order to concentrate on coaching.
He said: “We’ve clinched promotion, I’m 36 so it’s the right time for me to call it a day.”
He said Barrow would be going all out to finish as league leaders and added: “The title is there to be win. We are two points clear and if we win each of our remaining four games nothing can stop us.
“Oldham beat us early in the year, but we remain unbeaten in the league at Craven Park and that’s a record we want to keep to the end of the season.”