Oldham win derby clash

Date published: Monday, August 15, 2011

BOOSTED by a third win of the season against derby rivals Rochdale Hornets, Oldham RL boss Tony Benson believes his Roughyeds can reach the Championship One Grand Final for the fifth year in a row.
Oldham are likely to finish in the bottom two of the play-off six, but with one exception — Workington Town — they have beaten every other play-off team at least once in a season marked by inconsistency of performance and results.
Apart from champions Swinton Lions, who get automatic promotion, and bottom club Gateshead Thunder, who have struggled to compete, every other team in the division has been up one week — and down the next.
Said Benson: “In that respect we are much like all our rivals, but as a club we have a lot of experience of play-off rugby and I like to think we are running into good form at just the right time to have a good crack at reaching the final once again.
[singlepic id=877 w=320 h=240 float=left]”We’ve still got a few players who will come back into contention so that will give me some selection headaches over the next few weeks.”
Among players still on the injured list are Dave Ellison, Scott Mansfield, Chris Clarke, Lucas Onyango, Bruce Johnson and Mick Fogerty, while John Gillam is waiting in the wings after being away on work commitments.
Also sidelined yesterday were Andy Isherwood and John Clough, replaced by Michael Ward and Danny Whitmore.
Prop Luke Sutton, who is emigrating to Australia, has played his last game, but there are hopes that fellow front-row man Johnson may be back from injury soon, while there might still be a chance of seeing Ellison on duty again before the season is over.
Coming up on the rails also are a clutch of young props in the reserves, headed by two who have already had senior experience, Liam Gilchirst and Tom Wood-Hulme.
Jamie Dallimore, the reserves half-back, was the first team’s 18th man at Rochdale yesterday after helping the second team to a 66-20 trouncing of Dewsbury at Whitebank on Saturday — a win which established the side as divisional runners-up behind Widnes Vikings.
Added Benson: “We’ve been going pretty well over the last few weeks, knocking off some of the leading sides in the division and claiming another such scalp at Rochdale.
“I’m not making too much of that because we’ve still got two tough league games to play against South Wales and Workington and the challenge to us is to find some consistency and play equally well against South Wales at Whitebank on Sunday.
“If we could get maximum points from those two games we might finish fifth, but wherever we end up we are going to have to get to the final the hard way.
“If we keep rolling on anything can happen. We’ve got there the hard way before, in 2009, and if we can do it once we can do it again.”
At the end of Benson’s first year as Roughyeds boss, there was a fourth-place finish, but it still took three games to get to the final — against Swinton, Hunslet and York —- as it would for the side finishing fifth, sixth or seventh.