AFTER four Championship defeats in a row — three of them away — Scott Naylor welcomes the opportunity for Oldham to bounce back against form team Batley Bulldogs at Bower Fold on Sunday (3pm).
Describing it as “the perfect game for us at this time”, the Roughyeds’ boss added: “After what happened over Easter we have a lot we need to prove.”
Naylor’s men were beaten 42-28 at home by Halifax and 28-18 away to Swinton. Astonishingly, they didn’t score a single first-half point in either game, but they rattled up, on aggregate, 46 second-half points to their opponents’ 16 with nothing to show for it.
Added Naylor: “We need a tough challenge and Batley will provide it.”
It will be all the tougher for Oldham because five players who started the season are currently unavailable, mainly due to injury.
In the Easter games Naylor had the use of two teenage forwards from Huddersfield Giants, Liam Johnson and Tyler Dickinson, on dual-registration. Dual-reg will again be available to him this weekend.
Adam Clay will also be ready for a recall as Naylor looks to select a side from the 17 who played against Swinton, less Jack Holmes (ankle) plus Jamel Chisholm, Steve Roper, Joe Burke, Clay and any players Naylor might bring in from the Giants.
Unbeaten in their last seven games, Bulldogs have the leading goalkicker and points scorer in the competition. Half-back Pat Walker has 33 goals and 66 points to lead from the front.
Another principal scorer is winger Alex Brown, who has run in a try in each of his side’s last five games.
Oldham (from, random order): Chisholm, Palfrey, Clay, Grimshaw, Joy, Spencer, Owen, Ward, Lepori, Files, Gee, Roper, Ford, Hope, Thompson, Hughes, Middlehurst, Burke plusdual-reg players.
Batley (from): Scott, Reittie, Cowling, Ainscough, A Brown, Walker, Brambani, Hirst, Leak, Rowe, Chandler, Day, Blake, J Brown, Lillycrop, Harrison, Davey.
* DICK Cracknell, Oldham’s brilliant winger in the 1950s team of all talents, has died in Huddersfield, aged 87.
In his five and a half seasons at Watersheddings, he scored 119 tries in 213 appearances, heading the club’s try-scoring list in 1957-58 and 1958-59 with 27 and 20 respectively.