Local lads go head to head

Date published: Friday, August 1, 2014
YOU can almost throw a rugby ball from Geoff Owen’s house in Moorside to Andy Yates’s place just across the road.
Neighbours for a few years, they’ve seen their sons Gareth (Owen) and Danny (Yates) learn their trade together at Waterhead — that renowned academy of rugby league skills and sciences — and go on to fulfil ambitions to become professionals.
Gareth (22) played all his early rugby at Peach Road as a half-back, but switched to hooker when he was 15 and signed for Salford a year later.
Danny (20) was born to be a half-back, like his father before him, and emerged from Waterhead’s conveyor belt of talent to sign for St Helens before moving on to Halifax.
Both have played in the Kingstone Press Championship this season, Yates with Halifax, Owen on loan from Salford to Sheffield Eagles.
Now, nearly 200 miles away in Middlesex, their sporting pathways will cross at senior level for the first time since they were both in Waterhead’s kindergarten, where Gareth had his first game of five-a-side rugby at the age of four.
Yates, on loan to London Skolars, will play at half-back against his home-town team on Sunday, while Owen is lined up to make his second appearance for Oldham at hooker, having joined Roughyeds from Salford on loan to the end of the season.
Both will have key, pivotal roles to play in a match to be staged at the Queen Elizabeth 11 Stadium, home of Enfield Town FC (kick-off 3pm).
Yates made a big impression in his initital one-month stay with Skolars, winning a Kingstone Press player of the week award in one of his early games.
Skolars have since reached a new agreement with Halifax to keep him on a week-to-week basis to the end of the season.
They have also signed former Leeds and Featherstone full-back Josh Sunley, who made his debut in Skolars’ 19-18 defeat by South Wales Scorpions at Cardiff Arms Park last Sunday.
Said coach Joe Mbu: “Danny has fitted in well down here. The other lads have taken to him, and he seems to like playing for us.
“He gets us around the park and he gives us some guidance. He directs operations and he’s inspirational.
“We didn’t play as well as we can do last week and that’s been the story of our season — up and down.
“Oldham are always difficult opponents, but we usually rise to the occasion against them.”
Scott Naylor’s men will be bidding to beat Skolars for the third time this season, having scraped home 18-16 in London in March before winning 46-16 at Whitebank on June 1.
At face value they should be strong favourites to complete a winning hat-trick, but Naylor will insist they take nothing for granted.
And he will remind his players that their win in London on their last visit owed everything to a try-saving, last-ditch tackle by Mo Agoro seconds from the end.