Tom targets last lap

Date published: Tuesday, August 11, 2015
AFTER missing four months of Oldham’s exciting League One season with a serious knee injury, Tom Ashton is looking to be heavily involved on the last lap of the promotion push.

On his own honest admission, the former Sheffield Eagles centre was nervous and apprehensive when making his return to rugby at Hemel Stags after 16 weeks of anguish, medical appointments, rehab and a sustained slog on a specific programme in the gym.
Despite a lack of match practice and match fitness in his first run-out since he was hurt at South Wales Scorpions on April 19, the 23-year-old played the full 80 minutes and was able to give the thumbs-up when it was all over.
“It was great to be back on the field, but it was a very hot day and I found it tough going,” said Ashton.
“I took an early knock on the knee, but it stood up to that and I gradually gained in confidence as the game wore on.
“I’m just delighted I’ve got the first one out of the way. I’ll feel more comfortable and more confident next time. It’s nearly four months since I played previously and that’s a long time to be out.”
He looked strong in defence in the left centre position and did all that was expected of him with ball in hand.
Although delighted to see his table toppers rattle up 70 points with 12 tries and 11 goals, coach Scott Naylor was just as happy with his side’s willingess to work and graft when Hemel had the ball.
“We’ll always score points, but key to where we’ll finish in the league will be how we perform in defence,” said the Roughyeds boss.
Oldham head to Newcastle on Sunday (3pm), having conceded only 26 points in total in their last four games against London Skolars, North Wales, Keighley and Hemel, while amassing 163 points themselves.
Those opponents, two of them right up there in the push to earn play-off qualification, managed only five tries between them in 320 minutes of rugby, while Roughyeds ran in 27 tries.
Added Naylor: “We’ve four games to go to the end of the regular season, and each one of our opponents will raise their game to try to halt our winning streak.
“We’re the team to beat and we’ve got to learn how to cope with all the pressure that will inevitably be on us.”