Clash of the Fowards for Derby match

Date published: Wednesday, April 20, 2011

RIVAL props Luke Stenchion and Richard Mervill are set to take centre stage in Oldham RL Club’s derby clash with Rochdale Hornets at Whitebank on Friday (3pm).

Roughyeds’ new boy Stenchion (25), formerly with Batley and Dewsbury, did more than enough on his debut against London Skolars to show that he will play a lead role in anything Oldham achieve this year.

“It was his first game since last August and he showed real class. He can only get better and better,” said coach Tony Benson, who has revealed that Roughyeds are ‘quietly confident’ of strengthening the squad still further by bringing in at least one more experienced player soon.

Hornets have already given their squad a mid-season top-up with the recent signings of Mervill in the forwards and Wayne McHugh in the backs, thus convincing the Oldham boss that they will be a force this year in Co-operative Championship One.

“Thanks to their recent recruitment they will bring the most competitive side they have thrown at us in all my time at Oldham,” added Benson. “It should be a derby cracker.”

Hornets coach John Stankevitch wasn’t happy with his side’s performance in Sunday’s 40-32 home defeat by Keighley, but he is expected to go with the same front-row.

That will set up the head-to-head clash of Mervill and Stenchion —- a former Oldham front-row favourite, now aged 29, against the Roughyeds’ latest addition to the club’s engine room, four years his junior.

Mervill, a Roughyeds’ player of the year in 2007, missed only a handful of games throughout 2007 and 2008 and amassed 78 in total in his two-and-a-half seasons at Oldham.

His last game in a Roughyeds shirt was at Boundary Park on August 2, 2009 in an impressive 48-28 win . . . against the Hornets.

Of the Oldham team that day only four players are still at the club — Jason Boults, Neil Roden, Lucas Onyango and Martin Roden.