Oldham RL break new ground

Date published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013

OLDHAM RL break new ground on Sunday when they play their first-ever senior game in Hertfordshire at the Pennine Way home of Kingstone Press Championship One new boys Hemel Stags.

In one guise or another, Stags have been playing rugby league in Hemel Hempstead for more than 30 years, building gradually to this their first season at semi-professional level in the sport’s third tier.
They currently lie second to North Wales Crusaders, having beaten Gateshead and Gloucestershire All Golds at home and London Skolars away.
Their only league defeat, at Oxford last Sunday, was a desperately close thing in which they were beaten 23-22, going down to a Jonny Leather drop goal two minutes from the end.
Oldham, five points behind them with a game in hand, will choose from a fully-fit squad, although it isn’t yet known whether prop Liam Gilchrist will be considered for the first team or for the under-20s, who also travel to Hemel for a game against the Stags’ second team, kicking off at 12.30pm.
When the RFL prepared a fixture list for clubs in the under-20s Championship they thought it would save on travel costs if Phil Costin’s side and Scott Naylor’s senior squad each played Hemel at Pennine Way on the same day.
Oldham are adamant, however, that it would be totally unreasonable and contrary to the best interests of the first team to ask them to travel with the under-20s, who will leave at 7.15am for the early kick-off.
Not only would first-team players have had to be up at the crack of dawn, but on arrival at Hemel they would have had to hang around for upwards of four hours before their kick-off.
To avoid that, the two squads will travel independently.
Gilchrist was due to start his comeback after a six-week absence with a calf muscle injury in the under-20s’ impressive 35-18 win against Halifax last Friday, but he had to withdraw because of an upset stomach on the day of the game.
He trained normally last night, however, and is expected to be available for selection on Sunday.
With no game last Sunday, Naylor gave his players a few days off. They didn’t train last Thursday or Saturday, so they effectively enjoyed six rugby-free days, taking in the Bank Holiday weekend.
“Hopefully, it will freshen them up both mentally and physically,” said the Roughyeds boss.
Chairman Chris Hamilton represented the Oldham club today at a meeting of Championship and Championship One clubs in Coventry, where another new club is pushing for entry into Championship One in 2014.