Ton-up for Bloomers

Date published: Friday, June 13, 2014
WHILE Scott Naylor will be looking for a massive improvement defensively, Oldham wingers Dale Bloomfield and Mo Agoro will have special reasons for wanting to score tries in Sunday’s clash with South Wales Scorpions at Whitebank.
It will be Bloomfield’s 100th career appearance as a professional and for any winger there would be no better way to celebrate that achievement than by running in the odd try or two.
Like Danny Langtree and Kenny Hughes, Bloomfield hails from St Helens and passed through the Saints’ academy system.
But it was at Rochdale where he made his bow as a pro, scoring 40 tries in 64 games across the three seasons from 2010 to 2012.
Now in his second season at Whitebank, he has made 35 appearances from a possible 36 on Oldham’s left flank, boasting 11 tries in 2013 and 10 already in this campaign to sit third in the Championship One list behind Oxford’s Sean Morris, on 12, and Gateshead’s Jason Payne, on 11.
On Oldham’s right flank Agoro is joint sixth in the divisional list with seven tries, but what sets the former Leeds youngster apart from the rest is that he has scored all seven in the last half a dozen games.
The last time he failed to get over the line was on April 13 in the 52-16 home win against Gateshead — and there isn’t another player, from Super League down to Championship One, who can equal his six-match scoring burst.
Josh Crowley and the prolific Jon Ford have each scored in the last three games.
But as far as Naylor and Lee Spencer are concerned, Sunday’s game against the division’s bottom club will be as much about stopping Scorpions scoring tries as it will about running them in, given that 44 points were conceded at Hemel — the most in a league game during Naylor’s season and a half at Whitebank.
Roughyeds begin the second half of the league campaign as the third of three clubs separated at the top by only one point.
They have, however, a significantly inferior for-and-against record to either Hunslet or York and ultimately the battle for a top-two finish could hinge on that.
After 10 league games last year, the Roughyeds’ ‘points for’ column was almost identical to now, whereas 180 points had been conceded compared to 234 at the present time — a significant difference and one which needs to be addressed if the team is to realise its true potential.
More immediately, Naylor will be quick to dismiss any suggestion that Sunday’s opponents will be easy-beats because they have lost nine of their ten games to date.
They followed up a two-point home defeat by a vastly-improved Gloucester outfit by going to London last week and smashing Skolars 46-18.
They scored eight tries, seven of which were converted by a marksman, Paul Emanuelli, who is building a reputation as one of the most accurate goalkickers in the division.
Of equally sound repute is Pontypridd-born hooker Connor Farrer, who turned 19 only last week and is claimed to be one of the best young prospects to come out of the Valleys in recent years.
He has scored six tries in his last three games and, despite playing in what has been a losing side, has made several appearances in divisional teams-of-the-week.
As for 30-year-old Emanuelli, another Welshman, he joined Scorpions this season after a long career in both codes and acts as assistant player-coach and chief playmaker from stand-off half.
His half-back partner, Greg Wilde, is a 20-year-old from ‘up north’ who has scored four tries in five appearances.
From Warrington originally, he was taken to Scorpions by their coach Mike Grady, who comes from the same town.
Underlining the truth behind that old sporting cliche, ‘You’re only as good as your last game’, neither Oldham nor York has a single representative in the latest Championship One top team which is comprising of players from Gloucester (4), Hemel Stags (4), South Wales (3) and Gateshead (2).
The Welsh trio are full-back Jordan Sheridan, second-rower Michael Connor and the man who makes them tick, Emanuelli.
Scorpions are realistic enough to know that they have lost too much ground already to make a push for the all-important top five.
Skolars, next to bottom, are in a spot of turmoil, but there is evidence aplenty in recent results to show that Hemel, Gloucester, Oxford and resurgent Gateshead will have a lot to say in the play-off placings.
To hold them at bay and to pursue their top-two ambitions, Oldham need to win home games against the likes of Scorpions to some tune in order to improve their ‘for and against’ figures.
Sunday’s games: Oldham v South Wales Scorpions; Hunslet Hawks v Hemel Stags; Oxford v London Skolars; York City Knights v Gateshead Thunder.