Scott’s warning

Date published: Wednesday, August 20, 2014
SCOTT Naylor has warned that Oldham’s next game at Gateshead Thunder will be one of the toughest tests of the season.
Roughyeds need to win their two remaining matches, in the North-East on August 31 and at Whitebank against Gloucester on September 7, to finish second in Kingstone Press Championship One.
Thunder are in fourth place and they can’t go any higher, but to make sure of finishing there they will have to take the three points on offer against Oldham in the Tynesiders’ final game of the regular season.
They have strengthened their squad substantially since being bought out by Newcastle Rugby Ltd, owners of RU club Newcastle Falcons, and have gone from strength to strength since publicly declaring their intent to win promotion this year and to be in Super League before long.
In their last away game of the campaign they were narrowly pipped 34-30 by leaders York at the Huntington Stadium.
Said Naylor: “We’ll go up there expecting a very, very difficult task.
“We are capable of beating both Gateshead and Gloucester to finish second, but I can’t emphasise enough that we will have to be at the peak of our form.
“Even so, after all the hard work we’ve put in to get ourselves into this position, I will feel we’ve let ourselves down now if we don’t finish behind York.
“To go into the play-offs from there wouldn’t be a bad starting point, considering our principle challengers all season have been two teams who were in the Championship last year and who retained most of their players.”
Gateshead and Oldham dominate the latest Kingstone Press Championship One team of the week, each with three players.
Centre David Cookson, second-row forward Josh Crowley and half-back Steve Roper form the Roughyeds’ trio.
Hemel Stags, beaten 38-10 at Whitebank last Sunday, picked out Roper as the Roughyeds’ outstanding player.
Top team: Meads (Gateshead); Saltonstall (York), Cookson (OLDHAM), Mvududu (London Skolars), Macani (London Skolars); Roper (OLDHAM), Hardcastle (Gateshead); Moore (Hunslet), Farrer (South Wales), Fewlass (Gateshead), Crowley (OLDHAM), Backhouse (York), Elliott (South Wales).
Roper replaced club captain Lewis Palfrey as goalkicker half way through the win at London Skolars on August 3 and he kept the job against Hemel because Palfrey was leading the side despite toiling with a tight groin.
“He’s been coping with it for two or three weeks,” said Naylor. “When we’ve got another kicker as good as ‘Ropes’ (Roper) it makes sense to take some of the pressure off Lewis.
“I leave it to them though. They are both good kickers and I’m happy for them to decide what’s best on the day.”
The under-20s play their last game of the season at Featherstone tonight (7.45 kick off) and they might
have a French man in the backs.
Maxime Fages, brother of Salford half-back Theo Fages, is in the area to spend time with Theo and the family.
He has been training with Neil Roden’s under-20s and he signed trialist forms, in time to beat Friday’s deadline, so that he can turn out tonight.
Aged 23, he is an outside back who has played for Carcassonne and Pia, but Oldham are not expected to pursue it beyond offering him training facilities while he is in the country.