Roughyeds ready for vital test

Date published: Friday, September 20, 2013

SCOTT Naylor’s Oldham are preparing to tackle the ‘Quality Street’ gang in Whitebank’s last and biggest game of the season on Sunday.

Roughyeds have beaten London Skolars seven times out of the last eight, including a league double this year, 30-22 at home, 44-24 away.

But Naylor believes they are a better side now — a view echoed by Skolars boss Joe Mbu, even though the Londoners will be without broken-ankle victim Dylan Skee, their ace goalkicker, tactician-in-chief and Championship One top points scorer.

Said Mbu: “The players want to win at Oldham for Dylan. Even without him we’re a lot stronger than we were in our previous meetings with Oldham.”

The Roughyeds’ boss, who saw Skolars lose their first play-off game at Rochdale to a last-minute try, has no argument with that.

He said: “They’re a quality team with quality individuals, especially on the fringes where they have been good all season.

“They scored seven unanswered tries in the first-half against Hemel last week. Our defence will have to be at its best to stop them scoring points.

“Last week was a learning curve for us when beaten by Rochdale. Since then, we’ve learned well and we’ve trained well. And I don’t see us making the same mistakes again.”

Mike Worrincy and Jamaine Wray, two of the most experienced players in the London squad, didn’t play last Sunday after picking up knocks at Rochdale, but Naylor believes they were probably being rested for this one.

Others to watch are lively full-back James Anthony, who has scored 20 tries in all competitions this year and needs one more to smash a nine-year club record; young centre Oscar Thomas; and former Super League star and Great Britain winger Gareth Raynor.

Added Naylor: “Thomas looks a natural. It wouldn’t surprise me if he replaced Skee at half-back”.

Oldham are expected to field a similar side to last week’s with Richard Lepori returning to full-back.

The side Naylor will pick from a 21-man squad must win to go through to the club’s fifth final in seven years against Rochdale at Leigh on Sunday week.

Team (from): Lepori, Agoro, Cookson, Ford, Bloomfield, Nield; Palfrey, Hughes; Joy, Boults, Gee, Files, Haggarty, Gilchrist, Ward, Crowley, Langtree, Clarke, Hobson, Thompson, Rasool.

3pm kick-off; normal admission prices; referee George Stokes of Skelmersdale.