Roughyeds wait on Ford

Date published: Friday, August 2, 2013

OLDHAM may have to go to London Skolars on Sunday without centre Jon Ford, Championship One’s leading try scorer.

Coach Scott Naylor has been warned by Salford City Reds that they may recall their talented teenager to play in Sunday’s Super League game at Huddersfield Giants.

A decision on Ford, who has been playing at Oldham for most of the season either on dual registration or loan, will be made later today.

Even if it goes in favour of the Championship One leaders there will still be changes in the back division to provide for the return from international duty of regular full-back Richard Lepori.

Lepori, playing on the wing, scored a hat-trick of tries in Italy’s 66-30 win over Germany in the European Shield the day before Roughyeds extended their lead at the top with a stunning 28-10 win at Whitebank against title rivals North Wales Crusaders.

Debutant Tom Whitehead, who stood in for Lepori, gave an excellent all-round performance to give Naylor a selection headache.

There will be changes in the forwards as well.

On-loan prop Nathan Mason has been recalled by Huddersfield, but Jason Boults is available after several weeks out with a broken finger and Matthew Haggarty’s loan deal from Barrow has been extended.

His initial four-weeks spell here was due to expire today, but paper work for the extension was completed last night.

Said Naylor: “I’m very happy about this. He’s got better week by week while he’s been here, and we still haven’t seen the best of him.

“Barrow have agreed to let him stay, and that’s a real plus.

“In the backs, I don’t know yet whether we’ll have Jon Ford — and there are different ways I can go in relation to Richard Lepori’s return to the side.

“I haven’t finally made up my mind yet, but everything will be resolved by the time we train on Saturday morning.

“The boys trained well last night and we are preparing for a game that will be just as tough and intense as last week’s.

“We’re top of the league and that alone will cause Skolars to lift their game.

“They’re high on confidence after winning five league games in a row and they’re aiming for a top-three finish and a real dig in the play-offs.

“It’s our last big challenge in terms of long away trips. We’ve won all the other long-distance games, but it’s going to be a big examination, given that we put such a lot into last week’s game and the lads have to raise themselves again at the end of a four and a half hour bus ride.

“Needless to say, we will approach it as professionally as possible and hopefully we will get the job done.”

Roughyeds beat the Londoners 30-22 at Whitebank on June 2 — one of coach Joe Mbu’s side’s three defeats on the road.

In their best season for years they’ve only lost once in the league at the New River Stadium and that was a shock 26-8 loss to Hemel Stags on day one in March.

Since then South Wales, Oxford, Gloucester, Rochdale Hornets and Gateshead have all returned empty-handed from North London.

Last week’s win at Gloucester took them to third place in the division, but they’re fourth now following Hemel’s midweek victory against the All Golds.

Making his home debut on Sunday, probably on the wing, will be 35-year-old former Great Britain back Gareth Raynor.

Other danger men are half-backs Dylan Skee and Mike Bishay, who has played in Super League with London Broncos this year, and full-back James Anthony, an exciting runner.

Skee is second to Oldham’s Lewis Palfrey in the division’s list of goals and points scorers, while Bishay leads the division’s player-of-the-year rankings and second-rower Mike Worrincy is in fourth place.

Hooker Jamaine Wray, once of Keighley Cougars, is another livewire.

Said boss Mbu: “Oldham keep coming at you from minute one to minute 80 and that’s what we’ve got to do in response.”