No Room for Complacency

Date published: Friday, August 9, 2013
IT’S top v bottom, but Scott Naylor has promised that Oldham will be just as switched-on as they were for the last game at Whitebank a fortnight ago.
That was top v second — a superb advertisement for Championship One rugby in which Roughyeds produced a rousing performance to beat North Wales Crusaders 28-10.

The visitors on Sunday (3pm) are basement club Gloucester All Golds, whom Oldham must beat to keep their title hopes alive.

Preparations have been in full swing all week just as they have been for every other game in this super season.

Said Naylor: “I can’t stomach complacency, and the boys know that. No way will we take Gloucester lightly. Not only would that be foolish, but it would be totally disrespectful to All Golds coach Brad Hepi, who is doing a fantastic job down there.

“His team will be unrecognisable from the one we beat 36-0 in Cheltenham in April. It was only the second league game of the season. Everything was still new to them.

“They’ve had a full season together now and they’ve strengthened their squad considerably, as more recent results indicate clearly.

“Hepi’s job in this first year is to see gradual improvement and he has certainly succeeded in doing that.

“We’ll need to be on our mettle. We will be.”

Gloucester have picked up eight points from the last 12 on offer with two wins, plus bonus points from each of their last two defeats by Hemel and Skolars.

Hepi will not be able to call on the services of his son Tyla, who is staying at Hull KR after playing well for them in the televised Super League game against Wigan Warriors early in the week.

He is likely, however, to recall scrum-half Matt Bradley, who played for Italy against Germany recently in the same team as Oldham full-back Richard Lepori.

Having scored a hat-trick in that game and another three in Roughyeds’ hard-fought 44-24 triumph at London Skolars last Sunday, Lepori will be keen to keep up the good work on home soil and in front of his own supporters.

Naylor will switch his side around a little bit because he will have only four days to get it ready for the Rochdale derby at Spotland next Thursday night (7pm).
He is keen to spread the workload so that Roughyeds are as fresh as possible on both occasions. 
Jon Ford is out for the season with a dislocated elbow, so it’s likely that David Cookson will step back into the centre to partner Josh Crowley.

Tom Whitehead will also be looking to get back into the 17, but whether that’s at full-back, half-back or even hooker remains to be seen.

Naylor has options all over the park and last night’s beat-the-deadline capture on loan of back-row forward Chris Clarke from Swinton shows that he wants to keep it that way in the final countdown.

Clarke is likely to make an appearance, but the team will not be announced until tomorrow morning at training.

* Naylor and club officials hope fans will turn out in force at this last match to recognise the team’s achievements so far.

To that end, considerable work has gone into pushing the game in the Hollins and Limehurst Village areas as part of the club’s ever-increasing involvement in those communities.

Eleven young mascots from Limehurst Lions, a new club for juniors which uses Whitebank as its base, will walk out on to the pitch with the Oldham players.