Whitebank is our ally…..Crowley

Date published: Thursday, August 28, 2014
FORTRESS Whitebank will be Oldham’s biggest ally in the push for promotion via the play-offs, says Roughyeds’ forward Josh Crowley.
Only Oldham have won this season on the compact little ground with its infamous slope and among the clubs leaving empty handed, or with no more than a bonus point, were the current top two, York and Hunslet.
This time last year Rochdale and Oxford had posted wins at Whitebank in the league, and Rochdale went on to do it again in the play-offs before beating Scott Naylor’s men for a third time in the Grand Final at Leigh.
“This season we’re a tougher bunch on home soil and it will take a very good side, and a top-notch performance, to take our Whitebank record off us,” said Crowley.
“I wouldn’t fancy anybody’s chances of coming to Oldham and winning on the patch that we’ve turned into a fortress.
“We know the ground, we play the slope well and with our fans almost breathing down our necks, home advantage alone is worth a few points.
“If we finish second behind York we’ll get a home tie in our first play-off game and that’s why it is so important that we win our last two league games against Gateshead and Gloucester.”
If Roughyeds can pick up maximum points from those two games they are assured of second place, but they know they face a huge challenge at Gateshead on Sunday against a Thunder side that has won four of its last five games.
In their last eight games they have been turned over only by the top three teams in the division — York (34-30), Hunslet (45-6) and Oldham (32-14).
Added Crowley: “It was tough up there last  time, and it will be even tougher on Sunday, but we know what to expect and we’ll be well prepared.”
Gateshead have been stunned by the news that veteran prop Ryan Macdonald, their latest signing from London Skolars, looks certain to be finished for the season after damaging a shoulder in his debut against South Wales.
One of the sport’s real hard men, and a prop who invariably gives Oldham a lot of trouble, Macdonald has had an operation and faces a lengthy lay-off.