ADAM Clay will make his 100th career appearance at Whitehaven tomorrow (6.30pm kick-off) and if his milestone match is just a fraction as memorable as last week’s sensational Challenge Cup win at Hull KR there will be no complaints from Oldham’s leading try scorer.
The 25-year-old right-winger, a model of consistency, is as reliable in making the hard yards in exit sets as he is in putting the finishing touches to right-flank moves and scoring in the corner.
His try at Hull KR was his fifth in ten appearances this season to follow his four in nine in 2014 and his 20 in 23 in the promotion season of 2015.
That’s 29 tries in 42 games overall for the Roughyeds — a creditable try-to-games ratio by any standards.
He will need to be on his mettle again at the Recreation Ground tomorrow, as will the entire team, if Scott Naylor’s men are to avoid coming back down to earth with a nasty bump after their heroics in the Challenge Cup.
While Roughyeds travel north in search of their fourth win in a row, James Coyle’s Cumbrians have been beaten in their last three, going down 24-23 at Batley, 60-6 at Leigh and 16-12 at home to London Broncos last Sunday.
It’s no disgrace to lose by a point at Batley and by all accounts the full-time Broncos were also lucky to win at the Recreation Ground after trailing 12-4 at half-time.
The best of their three wins was a 26-24 victory at Sheffield, but a good argument can be advanced to say that in terms of finishing outside the bottom two in the Championship their victories on home soil against Swinton Lions (18-12) and Workington Town (24-16) will have greater value come the end of the season.
They talk openly in west Cumbria of the mini-league that exists within the Championship, the inference being that two of their own, Whitehaven and Workington, plus the two promoted clubs, Oldham and Swinton, will be battling against each other to avoid the drop.
Interestingly, and perhaps significantly, Whitehaven’s ‘mini-league’ record is played two, won two, while Oldham’s is played two, lost two, having played poorly in defeat at Workington (23-12) and at Swinton (28-18).
Since that Easter debacle against the Lions, Roughyeds have surpassed all expectations and have raised eyebrows all around the Rugby League with fantastic performances to beat Batley, Sheffield and Hull KR.
They will need to play with similar verve and vigour to avoid another ‘mini league’ reverse at the Recreation Ground.