Heading for the derby as league leaders

Date published: Monday, July 6, 2015

OLDHAM head for Sunday’s derby clash with Rochdale Hornets at Whitebank (3pm) on the back of four wins in a row and still out in front at the top of League One.

They climbed into pole position, and then retained it, with away wins at Swinton and Gloucester and victories on home soil against Oxford and York City Knights.
“We enjoy being top — and we want to stay there,” said chairman Chris Hamilton after Roughyeds trailed 12-6 in the first quarter of an hour against York and then kept the Knights scoreless for the next 65 minutes while scoring five more tries, two of them by Josh Crowley.
Oldham were 12-6 down at half time and the scores were level at 12-12 on the hour mark before the home side finished exceptionally strongly with 18 points in the last ten minutes.
Added Hamilton: “With the wind and rain behind us in the second half I was confident we would have enough in our armoury to win.
“We have sent out another statement to the rest of the division.”
The players believed the win was due as much to the first-half defensive effort as to the 28 unanswered points they scored in the second half.
Michael Ward, whose 54th-minute try pulled Roughyeds level and started the fightback, said: “We had a good talk at half-time and we felt we could pull things round, given that we were only 12-6 down and the second-half elements were in our favour.”
Two-try Crowley, who took his tally for the season to ten, added: “Before the game we would have taken a 12-6 half-time deficit, no doubt about that.”
With George Tyson, Tom Ashton, Steven Nield and Jon Ford all out injured, Naylor opted for dual-registered Huddersfield Giants youngsters Oliver Roberts and Jake Connor in his centre spots, Connor for the first time in an Oldham jersey.
The 20-year-old, a Halifax lad like Roberts, has played a dozen Super League games this season .
Also in the team were on-loan youngsters Nathan Mason (Huddersfield) and David Hewitt (19), who was on home debut.
Fielding a similar number of reinforcements, York had three on dual-reg from Castleford Tigers — James Clare, former London Broncos man Michael Channing and Jordan Howden ==== plus Jack Blagbrough, on loan from Sheffield Eagles.
Oldham came through with no new injuries, giving Naylor several options when he names his 17 for Sunday’s derby.