Oldham RLFC v Keighley Cougars Match Preview by Joshua Chapman (@JRCSport)
Date: Sunday 15th April
Venue: Vestacare Stadium, Whitebank, Oldham
The Cougars made it back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 with victory over Hemel last Sunday but are fully aware of the test that awaits them this weekend as they head to a traditional bogey ground, Whitebank, to face an Oldham side looking for momentum ahead of their Challenge Cup tie against Hull KR.
LAST TIME OUT:
Oldham suffered a shock second consecutive home defeat as they were beaten 16-24 by Hunslet RL. Oldham Coach Scott Naylor labelled the performance “unacceptable” as tries from Dave Hewitt, Danny Langtree and Gareth Owen gave the Roughyeds a 16-6 lead but after Craig Briscoe saw his effort ruled out for a knock-on, Hunslet went onto score 18 unanswered points to seal the two points.
The Cougars ran in 14 tries as they routed the Hemel Stags 80-10 at Cougar Park. Adam Ryder, Ritchie Hawkyard, Lewis Fairhurst and Josh Tonks all registerd a brace apiece with further tries on the afternoon coming through Harvey Hallas, Andy Gabriel, Nathan Conroy, Ben Morris, Matty Beharrell and Mike Emmett. Benn Hardcastle as always helped himself to some points with 12 successful conversions.
Following defeat last Sunday, Scott Naylor has brought in Wakefield duo Luke Hooley and Lee Kershaw in on loan along with Castleford’s Kieran Gill and all three are brought straight into the Roughyeds side. Salford Prop Daniel Murray also comes in on dual-registration with Kyran Johnson, Jack Holmes, Matty Wilkinson and Adam Jones the four who make way from the team that was beaten by Hunslet.
Craig Lingard brings new signing Darrell Griffin straight into the side after his arrival earlier this week following a spell in Rugby Union. Hamish Barnes (Shoulder) and Brad Nicholson both return from injury with Brendon Rawlins and Harry Aaronson dropping out of the side along with Harvey Hallas (Shoulder) who joins Jose Kenga (Ankle) and Emmerson Whittel (Knee) as Lingard’s only injury concerns.
Oldham are well known for their big pack that dominates the opposition up the middle of the pitch, especially at the Vestacare Stadium, and this should be no different this Sunday. The likes of Phil Joy, Adam Neal, Craig Briscoe and Salford DR man Daniel Murray will test the Cougars defence but can expect a fierce contest as new signing Darrell Griffin and the returning Brad Nicholson partner up with the ever dependable old guard of Scott Law and Matthew Bailey.
ROUGHYEDS: Bent, Bridge, Briscoe, Crook, Eccleston, Gill, Hewitt, Hooley, Hughes, Joy, Kershaw, Langtree, McComb, Murray, Neal, Nelmes, Owen, Reid, Spencer.
COUGARS: Bailey, Barnes, Beharrell, Conroy, Dixon, Emmett, Fairhurst, Gabriel, Griffin, Hardcastle, Hawkyard, Law, Lynam, Morris, Nicholson, Ryder, Tonks, Whiteley, Wright.
Oldham RLFC Head Coach Scott Naylor: “Keighley will come full of confidence and expecting to win, given that they won at Hunslet, who then came to our place and beat us.
“They’ve just signed ex-Super League prop Darrell Griffin too which shows they’re ambitious and mean business.
“If anyone in Oldham thinks Sunday’s game will be anything like the pre-season friendly then they’re sadly mistaken. This is going to be a real tough game and we’ve got to put things right.
“What we’ve been doing isn’t working in this division. We’ve got to do better and be better in every game, starting against the Cougars.”
Keighley Cougars Head Coach Craig Lingard: “We have three tough games coming up now; Oldham and Newcastle away and Whitehaven at home. We have targeted Whitehaven as a win especially.
“Oldham came down from the Championship last season, so it is a really tough ask for us to go there and win.
“Oldham will be smarting from their defeat last week. It might mean they are behind where they expected to be at this stage of the season.
“So it will mean it is a toss of a coin which Oldham side we get on Sunday. They know they have to win, but all we can do is concentrate on ourselves.
“We have had a tough start to the season with our fixtures, but we have done well. The squad is full of confidence.”
The whistle blower for this Betfred League One Round Seven fixture at the Vestacare Stadium, Whitebank, is Liam Staveley from Bradford. Staveley’s previous Cougars appointment was the fiery Joe Phillips Memorial Trophy defeat to Bradford in February where he sent Ritchie Hawkyard and Samir Tahraoui to the sin-bin before also showing Tahraoui and Ryan Wright a red card.
The Cougars are on a real high after three solid performances since last month’s defeat to Bradford which in turn has seen the latter two bring victories and continued the high this week with the addition of Darrell Griffin. Oldham will be hurting from defeat to Hunslet and will be looking for the bounce back and a victory that will give them momentum ahead of their Cup tie with Hull KR next weekend. It promises to be a real cracker that can’t afford to be missed come 3pm tomorrow across the pennines.