Reserve team’s final fling

Date published: Thursday, August 16, 2012

FORWARDS Phil Joy and Sam Dowby face late fitness checks before coach Paul Ashton names his Oldham RL reserves’ squad for Saturday’s play-off final at Featherstone (5.30pm kick off).

Joy, a hard-working prop, took a blow to the head in the semi-final win at Halifax while Dowby damaged a knee.

Ashton is sweating on both players coming through.

He said: “We’re waiting for the results of Joy’s head test. A decision on Dowby will be made by the physio on Friday.

“Both are key members of the pack. Phil has been outstanding all year —- one to watch for the future — and Sam has settled in well since he joined us a month ago.

“I’m also waiting to see if anyone from the first-team squad will be available to me.”

Oldham, the trophy holders, will contest the final for the second year in a row, having beaten Widnes Vikings in the 2011 final when Ashton was John Hough’s No 2.

Hough later left for Huddersfield Giants after a 14-year association with Roughyeds as player and coach, throwing open the opportunity for Ashton to step up.

Hough left the Super League club after a few months to take up a full-time job outside rugby in Australia.

Said Ashton: “We’re the only third-tier club to have a reserve team in this competition. To be one game away from retaining the trophy is a huge achievement and one for which Roughyeds should get the credit they deserve.

“A lot of this is down to Houghie. With Chris (chairman Hamilton) backing him, he adopted a five-year plan and we are now seeing results.

“Five young players who came through the reserves were in the first-team last Sunday — Cookson, Dallimore, Clarke, Ward and Thompson.

“I like to think I’ve carried on where Houghie left off. This club and this job mean a lot to me.

“It makes the job easier when you are dealing with good players. I take off my hat to them. There have been games this season when we’ve been down to the bare bones without a full bench because of all the first-team injuries, yet here we are in the final again. That says more about them than words from me.

“Mark Brocklehurst has also brought a lot to the table. As a senior player he has been my right-hand man all season.

“Houghie and I worked well together last year. This time Brocky and I have operated in tandem and his input has been first class.”

Ashton will name his big-match line-up-up at training tomorrow night, after which the full squad and backroom staff will go out as a group for a pre-final meal and social get-together.

+Club merchandise will be on sale at half price before the Workington game at Whitebank on Sunday and also from 9am to 5pm next Wednesday, August 22 at the club office in Lansdowne Road, Chadderton.