Journey to the unknown

Date published: Friday, April 12, 2013
OLDHAM journey into the unknown on Sunday when creating a little bit of club history with their first visit to Cheltenham for the game against the University of Gloucestershire All Golds.
You can count the different things they know about the All Golds on the fingers of one hand.
They remember Kiwi coach Brad Hepi as a tough-tackling mean machine in his playing days with numerous English clubs, among them Workington, Hull, Castleford, Featherstone and Salford.
They recall centre Callum Mulkeen as a pacy outside back who last season turned out several times on the wing for Roughyeds reserves.
They have been made aware that full-back Phil Cowburn is an Oldham-born Roughyeds fan, who used to play rugby union for Rochdale.
They know also that the All Golds have still to win on home soil, having been beaten at The Prince of Wales Stadium by Hemel Stags and South Wales Scorpions in the Northern Rail Cup and by fellow Kingstone Press Championship One new boys Oxford in the league.
On the flip side they have had two good away wins, the first at Gateshead Thunder in the Northern Rail Cup and the second at Skirlaugh on Humberside in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.
“Apart from little bits like that we know nothing,” said Roughyeds coach Scott Naylor.
“I haven’t been able to get hold of any footage of them, so they are very much an unknown quantity. With that in mind we will be focusing on ourselves in training and trying to do things better than we have been doing in the past couple of weeks.”
Naylor won’t finalise his plans and announce his line-up until tomorrow at training, but prop Liam Gilchrist is still out with a damaged calf muscle, while hooker Sam Gee is extremely doubtful with a shin injury.
Happily for Naylor his squad is not short of hookers with both Adam Files and Kenny Hughes more than capable of stepping into the breach.
The Roughyeds boss is expected to pick from the 17 who were beaten by Hunslet Hawks last week in the Challenge Cup, plus Neil Roden, Steven Nield and Michael Ward.
Liam Thompson got only half a game in the under-20s at Keighley last night, but only time will tell whether there was any significance in that.
Oldham (from): Lepori, Agoro, Samuel, Cookson, Nield, Bloomfield, Palfrey, Dallimore, Roden, Boults, Gee, Hughes, Files, Joy, Tyrer, Marriott, Crowley, Langtree, Ward, Thompson, Hobson.
Having been beaten by Rochdale at Whitebank in their only other league game so far, Oldham can ill afford to slip up again in this one.
With that in mind Naylor will be keen to shore up a defence that has conceded 25 points a game, on average, in six cup and league outings so far this year.
Despite his 45 years, his opposite number Hepi turned out at stand-off against Skirlaugh and suffered a dislocated shoulder.
His son Tyla Hepi could be the man to replace him.
Said Hepi snr: “Winning home games is vital if we are to enjoy a good season. Oldham are tough and talented, so we will need to eradicate simple errors and cheap turnovers early in our sets.”
Local lad Joe McClean will be hoping his recent form for feeder club Bristol Sonics will earn him a recall
All Golds (from): Cowburn, Gahan, Mulkeen, Bergin, Parker; T Hepi, Bradley; Stewart, Sherratt, Michael Venn, Crowther, R Jones, Rice, Walton, Yeats, Blaney, Smith, McClean.
The match takes place at the Prince of Wales Stadium in Cheltenham (3pm kick off), postcode GL50 4RN.
Fans are advised to leave the M5 at junction 11, take the A40 into Cheltenham, then follow signs for the Recreation Centre.
* OLDHAM under-20s were beaten 48-18 by Keighley Cougars at Cougar Park last night. In a disappointing performance they let in nine tries, trailed 24-6 at half-time and were second best from start to finish.