Play-offs beckon…..again

Date published: Tuesday, August 5, 2014

IT may have been long considered a formality, but Oldham RL are now assured mathematically of a place in the Kingstone Press Championship One top-five play-off.

Their win at London Skolars and same-day defeats for Hemel Stags and Gloucester All Golds means Scott Naylor’s men won’t finish any lower than third.
It will be the Roughyeds’ seventh Championship One play-off series in the last eight years, going back to when they first played in the sport’s third tier in 2007.
The only time they failed to qualify was in 2011 when they finished seventh.
Over the same period they have reached the final five times, losing them all to Featherstone (2007), Doncaster (2008), Keighley (2009), York (2010) and Rochdale (2013).
From 2007 to 2013, they finished, respectively, fourth, third, fourth, second, seventh, sixth and second.
Last year, Naylor’s first in charge, they finished in second spot, two points behind champions North Wales Crusaders, who were promoted.
They got to the play-off final, only to lose to Rochdale, who had finished third, nine points behind the Roughyeds.
This time, only the play-off winners go up, and Naylor’s men are presently second, sandwiched between the two who came down from the Championship last year — leaders York and third-placed Hunslet.
Final positions are worth fighting over because, theoretically, the higher you finish the easier is your route to the final.
Said Naylor: “We’ve three games left and all I’m concerned about is that we do everything possible to give ourselves the best chance of picking up maximum points. That’s my job.
“We can’t control what York and Hunslet do, but we will be striving to play to our full potential for 80 minutes in each game and then see where it takes us.”
The other play-off spots will go to any two of Gateshead, Hemel and Gloucester.
YORK (1st, 45 pts): Gateshead (h), Hunslet (a), London Skolars (h).
OLDHAM (2nd, 42 pts): Hemel (h), Gateshead (a), Gloucester (h).
HUNSLET (3rd, 39 pts): Hemel (a), York (h), London Skolars (a), South Wales (a).
GATESHEAD (4th, 29 pts): York (a), South Wales (h), Oldham (h).
HEMEL (5th, 28 pts): Hunslet (h), Oldham (a), Gloucester (h), Oxford (a).
GLOUCESTER (6th, 26 pts): South Wales (a), London Skolars (h), Hemel (a), Oldham (a).