‘Oxford performance can be a catalyst’ – PalfreyDate published: Thursday, June 18, 2015
OLDHAM captain Lewis Palfrey believes the level of performance Roughyeds produced in the 64-0 demolition job on Oxford could be the catalyst for an exciting second half of the League One season.
The end of Sunday’s game at Sedgley Park against derby rivals Swinton Lions (3pm kick off) will mark the half way point for Oldham in a 22-match league programme.
Including that one, there are 12 to play — seven of them away from home with long trips to Gloucester, London Skolars, Hemel Stags and Oxford plus three of the hardest tests of the season at Swinton and later in North Wales and up at Newcastle.
The five home games, against York, Rochdale, Keighley, Barrow and Swinton, will also provide a severe examination of the Roughyeds’ resolve and strength in depth with each of those visitors to Whitebank rivalling Scott Naylor’s men in the scramble for five play-off spots.
Said Palfrey: “Eight northern clubs are chasing five places so it’s not only going to be tough for us; it’s going to be tough for all the other clubs as well.
“It’s a hugely competitive division, which was always the intention when the RFL restructured everything and five teams came down from the Championship.
“We went through a dodgy spell when losing three out of four prior to the Oxford game, but we played much better against them.
“Hopefully, we’ve got the blip out of our systems now and we can look at the Oxford performance as a fresh start as we head towards the second half of the season.”
In his third year at Whitebank, Palfrey has twice captained Oldham to promotion-deciding grand finals only to fall at the last hurdle.
He added: “When I left Whitehaven I followed the rainbow and ended up at Oldham. I love this club and the supporters and whatever the rest of the season has in store for us I’d like to be here again next year. But that will be out of my control. It’s down to others.”
Swinton are one point and two places behind Oldham in the table, but they have a game in hand.
Former Oldham winger Shaun Robinson scored a hat-trick in the Lions’ 78-8 mauling of Coventry Bears last time out.
Ric Hawkyard, out for a fortnight with a leg injury, is expected to return at full-back as the Lions seek their fifth league win in a row.
Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton, meanwhile, has praised the new league structure and has claimed the best is yet to come.
He said: “Pre-season predictions about how tough League One would be have certainly been realised.
“The RFL must be well satisfied with how the new structure is working and we aren’t even at the point where the top two leagues split into three ‘eights’.
“We all know how tough League One is, but those who follow Super League and the Championship can only enthuse at the way those leagues are shaping up with the revised opportunity for promotion and the threat of relegation.
“There are some big clubs in the bottom four of Super League and there’s going to be a massive scramble as they push for the top eight before the cut.”