Reserves Champions to defend their title

Date published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

OLDHAM RL, winners of the 2011 Reserves Championship, start the defence of their title against Sheffield Eagles at Whitebank next Thursday, March 8 (7.45).

Each of their eight home games has been fixed for a Thursday night with a 7.45pm start.

There are six teams in the competition — Oldham, Keighley, Featherstone, Sheffield, York and Halifax.

Ten games were not thought to be enough, but 20 were considered too many so clubs voted for 16, eight at home, eight away.

Roughyeds play York four times and each of the others three times.

Sheffield and Halifax each play twice at Whitebank, but to balance that out Paul Ashton’s under-23s travel twice to Keighley and twice to Featherstone.

Home games are scheduled for March 8 (Sheffield), April 5 (York), April 19 (Sheffield), May 10 (Keighley), June 7 (Halifax), June 28 (York), July 19 (Featherstone) and August 2 (Halifax).

Seven of the players on duty in last Sunday’s Northern Rail Cup clash with Dewsbury Rams — Sean Robinson, David Cookson, Matthew Fogarty, Jamie Dallimore, Chris Clarke, Michael Ward and Alex Thompson — came up through the reserves.

Centre Fogarty was the youngest at 19, but the entire back-row of the pack was not much older with Clarke at 22, Thompson 21 and Ward having celebrated his 21st only a fortnight ago.

Said coach Ashton: “A lot of good lads from the team that won the championship last season have moved up to the senior squad, but I’ve recruited several new faces to produce a 2012 squad of about 28.

“It would be nice to have another fantastic season, but success at this level must be measured more by the quality and numbers of the players we develop into first-teamers. That’s what reserve-team rugby is all about.”

Of the new boys there are high expectations of former Widnes Vikings youngsters Jack Reid and Tom Rigby, who have already had a taste of senior action in Tony Benson’s first-team squad.

Admission prices are the same as last year, £4 adults, £2 concessions.