Feel-good factor growing by the day

Date published: Friday, June 21, 2013
WITH the feel-good factor among supporters growing by the day, Oldham Rugby will be striving for their sixth win in eight games at Whitebank on Sunday.

The two defeats were narrow ones too —- 16-18 at home to Tony Benson’s Oxford on April 28 and 20-22 at North Wales Crusaders on June 9.

They embark on the second half of the Championship One promotion campaign this weekend in third place, but as one of only two teams to have harvested at least one league point every time they have taken the field.

Their three bonus points so far could prove priceless in the scrap for end-of-season placings in an exceptionally competitive division of nine, but if Scott Naylor is to lead Roughyeds to promotion in his first season at the club he will regard bonus points from here on in as no more than a disappointing consolation.

To have a realistic chance of overtaking second-placed Rochdale and pushing leaders North Wales Crusaders off top spot, to go up automatically, Naylor’s boys will be striving for a full-house eight wins from eight, starting on Sunday with the visit to Whitebank of Hemel Stags (3pm kick off).

Can it be done ?

Naylor’s No 2, Lee Spencer, is under no illusions about the size of that task, while boasting sufficient belief in the squad to hold the view that it is certainly achievable.

He said: “We haven’t set goals and we won’t be racing ahead of ourselves. We’ll concentrate on one game at a time.

“Like every other team in the division we want to win the remaining eight. If we pulled that off we’d have a good chance of ending up where we want to be, and I honestly believe that every game is there to be won and we are strong enough to do it.

“We are young and fit, and we have a lot of very good players.

“Our discipline is good in that we are being penalised, on average, five times a game. That’s not bad, but we’d like it to be lower.

“We don’t want to have a reputation as spoilers. Talented people should play our sport the right way. We don’t try to bully teams; we like an agile, dynamic type of rugby.”

Club chief Chris Hamilton believes the Naylor-Spencer partnership is doing a good job and taking the squad in the right direction.

He said: “Scott (Naylor) has created a winning mentality at the club and has created the right sort of culture among his squad.

“We have a very determined and committed bunch of players, who are prepared to do the hard stuff, but also have the ability to play an expansive game.”

Skipper Lewis Palfrey has grown in stature as a leader as the season has progressed, while several of his young colleagues in their first season of senior rugby, notably Josh Crowley, Danny Langtree, Phil Joy, Kenny Hughes, Adam Files and Richard Lepori, have surpassed expectations and have become firm favourites of the Roughyeds’ faithful.

The second half of a vital season starts here . . . and it promises to be a fascinating three months.