Challenge Cup Draw

Date published: Tuesday, March 9, 2010

by ROGER HALSTEAD

ROUGHYEDS chief Chris Hamilton has bemoaned Oldham’s awful luck in Challenge Cup draws following last night’s pairings for the 2010 Carnegie competition which send Tony Benson’s men to Hunslet Hawks in round four.

Of the 11 occasions that Oldham have been in the hat since the third-round of 2007 it will be the eighth time they have been drawn away — and they have had to travel to poorly-attended ties at places like Aldershot, Gateshead and Humberside.

Despite advancing to round five of the sport’s best-known knock-out competition in 2007 and 2009 and going one better to hit the last eight in 2008, they have drawn Super League opposition only twice — Harlequins at home (Sedgley Park) in 2007 and Wakefield at Belle Vue in the quarter-final a year later.

Seven of their last ten ties over the same period have been watched by crowds of fewer than 1,000, and even the best of them at Wakefield attracted a disappointing 2,966.

If Oldham are to benefit financially from this year’s competition they must win at Hunslet and hope for a lucrative tie in round five, or face another Challenge Cup loss.

“There won’t be much in it for the side that loses at Hunslet, that’s for sure,” commented Chris.

“It will be the third time we will have played them this season so Tony (coach Benson) won’t be able to say he knows nothing about them.

“I’ve stopped even thinking about who I would like in the draw because we rarely get one we would have chosen.

“We often seem to draw teams in the Challenge Cup who we have also played in the Northern Rail. Over the last few seasons it’s happened with Rochdale, Swinton and now Hunslet.”

Roughyeds suffered a 28-14 Northern Rail defeat at Hunslet last month but they will make a return visit to the South Leeds Stadium on Friday night (8.00pm) for a Championship 1 encounter encouraged by a superb 38-20 league win at Swinton and then a record-breaking 80-6 Challenge Cup win against Welsh amateurs Blackwood Bulldogs.

It smashed two all-time Oldham Rugby records — the highest-ever score and the best-ever winning margin.

And it was the first time for 111 years that any Oldham side scored as many as 15 tries in a single game.

“It was a great day all round for us,” said Tony Benson. “The weather was good and our vocal support was fantastic again.

“In the boardroom after the game there were players, sponsors, past players, board members and club staff all together and the vibes were really positive.”

Among those representing the past Players’ Association were Adrian Alexander, John Blair, Lou Laverty and Mike Elliott.

Roughyeds face an important date at the Rugby League disciplinary committee in Leeds later today when five players — two from Oldham and three from Swinton — face possible suspension for alleged offences in a free-for-all near the end of the recent game at Sedgley Park.

Chris Hamilton will represent the two Oldham players, prop Wayne Kerr and winger Mark Brocklehurst.

Also before the judiciary will be Swinton’s Ian Watson, Aaron Smith and Neil Rigby.