Home is where the heart is

Date published: Thursday, June 30, 2011

THERE’S no place like home for Oldham RL Club this season . . . and coach Tony Benson is banking on his team’s liking for Whitebank to be decisive in Sunday’s big test against high-flying Whitehaven.

Though down in seventh place in Co-operative Championship One, Roughyeds have played 11 games on home soil in 2011 — including pre-season matches, Northern Rail Cup ties and one Carnegie Challenge Cup tie — and have triumphed nine times.

Moreover, they have racked up a total of 405 points at an average of nearly 37 a game while out-scoring Rochdale Hornets twice (Law Cup and league), Whitehaven in the pre-season SEAT Trophy, Hunslet Hawks (Northern Rail), Hunslet Warriors (Challenge Cup) and Gateshead, London Skolars, Doncaster and South Wales in the league.

The only home defeats all season were against Whitehaven, who won 14-4 in a tight game at the end of February, and runaway leaders Swinton Lions, who swept to a 68-24 victory a month later.

Remarkably, considering they went through a full programme of away games in the league last year with a 100 per cent record, Benson’s men had to wait until last Sunday at Gateshead to triumph on their travels.

But it’s been a different story at Whitebank, and with four of their remaining seven games at home, Roughyeds have set their sights on producing a rousing run-in on the final lap to the play-offs.

Said Benson: “Our first away win was a long time coming, but it meant a lot to us and it has made a big difference to the mood in the camp.

“It was also our second win in a row and that gave us a massive confidence boost, particularly in the manner in which we won, after a weekend off and against a team who had played very well the week before.

“We will need to raise the bar against Whitehaven and go up to another level but I’m confident we are capable of doing just that.”

Benson won’t name his line-up until Saturday at the soonest, but on-loan Leeds Rhinos youngsters Callum Casey and Danny Bravo are in line to make their home debuts, having impressed at Gateshead last week.