Oldham vs Dewsbury latest

Date published: Friday, February 24, 2012

OLDHAM hope to give key man Paul Noone his first game of 2012 against Dewsbury Rams at Whitebank on Sunday.

The former Warrington and Barrow forward had a great debut season for Roughyeds in 2011, holding the pack together as anchor man and playing in all 27 games.

His record of consistency as the squad’s only ever-present was but one of several factors in coach Tony Benson’s decision to name him as player of the year.

Due to increased work commitments in his full-time employment he hasn’t yet pulled on an Oldham jersey this season, but all that may change in Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup clash with the Rams (3pm kick off).

With the start of the Championship One campaign at Workington only two weeks away, 30-year-old Noone’s return to the second-row, or even his selection on the bench, would give the club a huge fillip.

Benson might also welcome back another vastly-experienced second-row man in Paul Smith, who also missed last Sunday’s 36-36 draw in South Wales because the demands of his job had to come first.

Youngsters Alex Thompson and Michael Ward did a great second-row job in Neath as Roughyeds battled back from 30-12 down to earn a draw, but Benson won’t want to expose them to too much pressure and responsibility if it can be avoided.

Chris Clarke is also expected to be in the mix to do battle with a big Dewsbury pack which might include former Super League prop Nick Fozzard.

Said Benson: “I’m hoping to be in a position to include Noone and Smith because we were down to the bare bones in the back row of the pack last week when the young fellows did a phenomenal job for us.

“We were out on our feet but we refused to give in and I was mighty proud of the team and of every player in it.

“We’ll be looking to produce that sort of fighting spirit again.

The Oldham boss won’t finalise his 18-man squad until training tomorrow, but changes may be forced upon him if Valu Bentley (ankle) and Paul Ballard (knee) are ruled out by injury.

On a brighter note wingers Sean Robinson and John Gillam and utility back Mark Brocklehurst are back in full training and it would be no surprise to see at least one of them included in the squad.

Added Benson: “We didn’t concede on the edges last week and I was pleased about that.

“We’ve been working this season on brand-new defensive and attacking structures, and we are working hard to get them right.

“We’ve got a few things we need to work on, but I’m confident in my belief that we’ll have things well and truly sorted by the time we go to Workington for the first league game.”

Both teams are looking for their first win of the season, although Roughyeds have two points more than bottom-of-the-table Rams in pool ‘A’ of the NRC thanks to their draw in South Wales.

Rams were beaten 36-6 at home by Halifax and then slipped to a 38-6 defeat at Featherstone.

Coach Warren Jowitt said: “We came up with a much improved performance at Featherstone, who scored 22 points in the last 12 minutes after we lost Rob Spicer through injury.

“The score suggests we were well beaten, but that wasn’t the case.

“Nevertheless, it will be mentally challenging at Oldham. If we don’t get things right we could get burned.”

Left-centre Spicer is out with broken ribs.