It’s the final countdown

Date published: Monday, July 22, 2013
IN the words of coach Scott Naylor, Oldham RL Club’s table-topping players will this week start the “final countdown” in the Roughyeds’ push for promotion.

After a well-deserved week off to freshen up, Naylor’s young squad will report back for training tomorrow night to prepare for four crucial Championship One games in the space of 19 days.

They are the last four games of the regular season, starting with Sunday’s visit to Whitebank (3pm) of title favourites North Wales Crusaders, currently two points behind Oldham in second place, but with two games in hand.

After that, Roughyeds go to London Skolars on Sunday, August 4; entertain Gloucester All Golds at Whitebank on Sunday, August 11; and finish off on the following Thursday, August 15 with a derby clash at Rochdale, kicking off at 7pm and televised live by Premier Sports.

The final four will have a huge bearing on promotion prospects, but none more so than Sunday’s top-of-the-table battle at Whitebank and then the tricky trip to north London seven days later.

If Roughyeds are to retain a realistic chance of finishing top and going up automatically they need to pick up the 12 points still available to them.

If not, they still need a decent share of those points to be sure of finishing second and thus giving themselves the best possible chance of promotion via the play-offs.

“We’re on the last lap, and it’s all to play for,” said Naylor.

Having seen his young side win nine of its last 11 league games, picking up 29 points from a possible 33 in the same period, Oldham’s team boss is quietly confident that targets can be reached one way or the other as the season reaches its pinnacle.

While Oldham and most of the other Championship One clubs had a weekend off, North Wales beat London Skolars 42-24 at Halifax on Saturday to lift the inaugural Northern Rose Bowl.

Said RFL chief executive Nigel Wood: “Ten years ago it would have been unthinkable that teams from Wales and London would contest a final.

“The championship divisions are providing the sport with a new geographical footprint and clubs like Oxford, Hemel and Gloucester will take great heart from the achievements of Crusaders and Skolars.”

* Oldham will complain to the RFL about Hemel’s failure to fulfil Saturday’s under-20s fixture at Whitebank because they couldn’t raise a team.

It was the second time in a month that the Hertfordshire club cried off and Oldham were not made aware that there was a problem this time round until Friday morning in an email sent overnight.

In a statement on the club website, Roughyeds apologised to fans for inconvenience caused by matters over which they had no control.

The under-20s next game is at York on Thursday (8pm kick off).