Look ahead to Whitehaven match

Date published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011

OLDHAM RL players believe Sunday’s clash with form-team Whitehaven at Whitebank (3pm) could be the game that will light up their season.

With six wins and two draws in their last eight games, the Cumbrians haven’t been beaten since they unexpectably crashed 49-18 at Rochdale back in April.

Half-back Lewis Palfrey has scored in each of Haven’s 18 games in 2011 while winger Craig Calvert, with 11, and hooker Chris Smith, 10, lie fourth and joint fifth respectively in the list of Championship One try-scorers.

“They’re a top team and it’s going to be tough,” said Roughyeds’ on-song prop Dave Ellison, “but our confidence is coming back after two wins in a row and if we hit things right we can beat any team in the division.

“Confidence counts for a lot. Last year we had a much easier start than this year and it set us up to go from strength to strength and finish second in the table. We didn’t only have a tougher start this year but we were also torn apart by injury and our confidence suffered.

“But there’s a feeling in the dressing room that we’ve turned the corner. Whitehaven will be the big test, but if we can knock them over with the help and vocal support of our terrific fans I genuinely believe it will set us up for a cracking run-in to the end of the season and then into the play-offs.”

New-look Roughyeds emerged unscathed from last Sunday’s 52-16 win at Gateshead in which Leeds Rhinos’ on-loan 21-year-olds Callum Casey and Danny Bravo made their debuts while vastly-experienced Mark McCully made only his second appearance in the centre.

[singlepic id=384 w=320 h=240 float=left]Prop Bruce Johnson, another new boy, was also in line for debut until, cruelly, he suffered a nasty injury to a finger in his third warm-up match for the reserves and now faces six weeks on the casualty list.

Youngster Michael Ward was on the fringe as 18th man, but regulars like Danny Whitmore, Valu Bentley, Ben Wood, Marcus St Hilaire and fit-again John Gillam couldn’t get in. Nor could young stand-off Jamie Dallimore, who had enjoyed a two-try debut in the previous game against South Wales.

A stomach bug has ruled Wood out of the last two training sessions so he remains a doubt for weekend, but most of the others will be in the mix.

“Three or four will be pressing for spots,” said coach Tony Benson. “It will give me a selection headache, but it’s a good one to have. I’m looking for more consistency in the side so if there are any changes there won’t be many.”

Young prop Tom Wood-Hulme, who has been out for nearly three months with a broken hand, had his first full training session last night and he may make his comeback in the reserves against Widnes Vikings away on Saturday (2.30pm kick off).