Palfrey’s big-game pointerDate published: Thursday, September 3, 2015
LEWIS Palfrey will lead Oldham into their biggest game of the season so far with statistical evidence to prove that he’s the best goalkicker and the busiest harvester of points in League One.
It’s 18 games and counting since the 25-year-old Roughyeds’ captain and schemer-in-chief failed to get his name on the scorecard — and in the entire game only Scott Leatherbarrow of Batley Bulldogs can match that.
A lot will be resting on match-winner Palfrey’s performance when league leaders Oldham entertain third-placed Swinton Lions at Whitebank on Sunday (3pm) in the Roughyeds’ last, and potentially most rewarding, home game of the regular season.
His level of consistency at the goalkick has been matched by his team’s ability to step up to the mark week on week, hence 11 wins in a row for Roughyeds and 99 league goals for Palfrey — 21 more than his closest rival, Josh Ward of Barrow, and 40 in excess of Swinton’s Chris Atkin, with whom he will be in competition in Sunday’s big game.
Further comparison shows Palfrey way out in front as League One’s leading points scorer with 243, ahead of Rochdale’s Paul Crook (203), Ward (180) and Atkin (162).
Across the sport, and taking all competitions into account, only Martyn Ridyard of Leigh (148) has scored more goals than Palfrey’s 120 and only Ridyard (325) and Hull KR’s Josh Mantellato (298) have amassed more points than the Oldham captain’s 285, comprising of 11 tries and a drop goal on top of his 120 goals.
Oldham’s big-game preparations will continue at Oasis Academy Oldham tonight when Scott Naylor will focus on how best to fill team vacancies caused by the suspensions of prop Adam Neal and play-anywhere Sammy Gee.
He has no shortage of options in the backs; his main task will be in the selection of his strongest pack and, in particular, his strongest front-row.
Will Hope, a deadline-day signing, is vastly more experienced than Elliott Liku and Richard Joy and the one thing Swinton have in abundance is nous and know-how up front in the shape of Jordan James, Mike Morrison, Tommy Gallagher and Mick Govin.
It would be some game, though, to throw Hope in at the deep end on debut. Either way, it will be a big call for the Roughyeds’ boss who, in this remarkably successful season, has usually got it right.
The Lions, who themselves will be seeking their tenth straight win, rested Morrison, Gallagher and full-back Richie Hawkyard, the captain, from the side that hammered Oxford 84-16 on Monday, but all three are expected to figure at Whitebank in a full-strength side.
It will include former Oldham winger Shaun Robinson and one-time Saddleworth Rangers junior Ben White, a half-back, who have scored 16 and 14 tries respectively to figure in League One’s top 12 try-scorers.
Centre Stuart Littler’s five-try haul in the Oxford game took his total to 16, thus giving Swinton three players in the top dozen.
Oldham have none — a puzzling void, even allowing for the number of points Palfrey has collected with the boot, given that only two clubs, Swinton and York, have totalled more League One points than the Roughyeds’ 736.