Kingstone Press League 1 – Round 17 Previews

Date published: Thursday, July 30, 2015

Oldham v Keighley Cougars (3.00, Sunday, Whitebank)

Oldham coach Scott Naylor reckons that last week’s win over North Wales Crusaders was one of the best performances since he’s been at the club: “A massive amount of effort went into it,” he said. “Our aggression was at the right limit all the way through the game, it never wavered from start to finish. There was huge desire; the lads just didn’t want to get beat and when they got chances, they put points on the board.

“For some of those lads it’s our third season together and it’s nice to see them play a more mature type of rugby, play as a team and just do the right things at the right time, control the game and understand that it’s OK just to complete sets and OK to defend. It’s been nice to see over the last six/seven games.

“It’s a huge game this weekend and in my opinion it’s now an even bigger game since we’ve beaten North Wales. If we get the win, it puts us in a really strong position. The lads are in a really good place and we’re very confident but fully understand that nothing been done yet. We’re playing a good brand of rugby, which has put us at the top of the table, but a couple of defeats and you’re in fifth and in the play-offs.

“The game means quite a bit to the lads because we didn’t give a good account of ourselves at Keighley. For some reason we had a 40-minute blip in the first half. We showed more of ourselves in the second half but the game was already over by half-time so the lads are looking forward to Sunday to right  a few wrongs.”

Paul March’s Keighley Cougars side go into this top-of-the-table clash following a 28-10 win over Newcastle Thunder. “Defensively I thought we were very good once again, we were aggressive and forced a lot of errors,” he said. “We were disappointing again with ball in hand which was more down to the conditions rather than the skill level. We’d prepared well all week for a dry surface and didn’t change the way we played until half-time when we tightened up a bit.

“It was good to get back to winning ways. It’s another tough one this week but one we’re looking forward to. Every time we’ve played one or two in the table we’ve come up with a great start and finished the game off, especially against Oldham at home, Rochdale at home and Newcastle away.

“This is going to be the mouth-watering League 1 clash this weekend. We’ll be looking to start well and go on from there.”

Wings Gavin Duffy and Paul White plus full-back Jesse Sheriffe are all available this week while centre Hamish Barnes is back from suspension.