Looking ahead to York game

Date published: Monday, May 12, 2014
OLDHAM RL boss Scott Naylor believes his squad will be strengthened considerably by the signings, initially on loan, of Nathan Mason and Steve Roper.
By the time Roughyeds face York City Knights at Whitebank on Sunday (3pm) they will have had only one game in 30 days, but for much of that period the two new additions to the squad will have had plenty of time to acquaint themselves with how Naylor and Oldham work.
Mason played in the 48-28 win against Oxford on May 4 just four days after signing, but scrum-half Roper, from Rochdale Hornets, is still waiting for his debut.
It could come against York when Naylor hopes to have 24 of his 25 first-team squad members available for selection, giving him more choice than for any other game this season.
He didn’t consider Roper for the Oxford game — the team’s only outing since the defeat at Hunslet on April 18 — because he had trained only once with his new team mates.
Also unavailable, due to injury, were Adam Files, Paddy Mooney, Jason Boults and Liam Thompson, but Naylor is hopeful that all but Thompson might be fit for weekend.
He also believes that Mason and Roper have come in at just the right time, given that the York game will be the start of a crucial period in which fixtures will level out and Roughyeds will be in action on seven consecutive Sundays — three times at Whitebank and four on the road at Gloucester, Hemel, Gateshead and Oxford.
Said Naylor: “We had a good squad before the arrival of Mason and Roper, but we just needed a little bit more quality and I believe they came in at the right time.
“We’ve got a tough period of the season coming up over the next seven or eight weeks and it is very important that there is competition for places.
“One positive aspect of having had two blank weekends out of the last three is that we’ve had more time with which to get the new additions settled in.
“It’s also given the walking wounded more time to recover and I’m hopeful that by the time we play York we should be in a very strong position.”
Neil Roden’s under-20s suffered a surprise 32-30 defeat in Nottingham by Midlands Regional Academy. Both teams scored six tries, but Midlands landed four goals to Tom Dempsey’s three for Oldham.
Andrew Ball (2), Sam Wilson (2), Kyle Buckley-Mayall and Rhys Wareing scored tries for Roughyeds, who trailed 22-12 at half-time.
Said Roden: “We seemed to think we only had to turn up to beat the Midlands, but rugby league isn’t like that. When you are not on your game you get caught out in defence and that’s what happened to us.
“They ran harder and stronger than we did and they perhaps wanted the win more than we did. I was more disappointed with this performance than in any of the other games we have lost this season.
“If nothing else we learned some very harsh lessons.”