Ready to repel a smash-and-grab raid

Date published: Thursday, September 18, 2014
OLDHAM will be ready to withstand a whirlwind start by York in Sunday’s 1 v 3 play-off clash at the Huntington Stadium.
In the league game at the same venue, the Knights were out of the blocks at 100 miles an hour with tries by Pat Smith and Jack Lee in the first seven minutes.
 
With half an hour gone they led 30-0 and the game was effectively over. They went on to win 54-12.
 
Dismissing reports that Sunday’s opponents were well below their best when beating London Skolars 38-28 in their final league game a fortnight ago, Scott Naylor has warned his Roughyeds players to be ready for their smash-and-grab start.
 
Said the Oldham boss: “All teams have quiet days, off days and good days, but we are in no doubt that Gary Thornton will have his side tuned to perfection and ready to hit us with the sort of start they used last time.
 
“It will be up to us to be ready for it and to do things differently than we did in the league game, which will count for absolutely nothing come Sunday.”
 
Playing their first game for three weeks, Knights had a set completion rate of only 45 per cent against Skolars and coach Thornton admitted: “We made hard work of it.”
 
He was at the Hunslet-Oldham game fully expecting to see the Hawks earn the right to take on his table-toppers this weekend, but left the ground suitably impressed with Oldham’s fightback on their way to a 25-24 triumph.
 
Said Thornton: “It was a game that epitomised what play-off rugby is all about. Hunslet were in control for most of the first half, but they lost the initiative and Oldham got the upper hand.
 
“They will come to York full of confidence. They’re a team in form and they’ve earned the right to play us with an opportunity to go straight through to the final.
 
“But we are confident too. There’s a reason we finished as champions and that’s because we’re the best team in the competition.”
 
Naylor, meanwhile, has expressed the view that the play-off series is wide open and that any one of the four teams still involved — Oldham, York, Hunslet and Gateshead — could win promotion.
 
Gateshead are widely considered to be outsiders, but the Oldham boss said it would be a big mistake to write them off.
 
“Make no mistake, they can play. We found that to our cost when we went up there a week or two back.
 
“It will be very interesting to see what happens when they go to Hunslet on Sunday.”