LIAM Thompson says Oldham need to be fast out of the blocks against Featherstone Rovers at Bower Fold on Sunday (3pm) and do what they usually do best — win the ruck.
Reflecting on last week’s disappointing 14-6 defeat at Whitehaven, he said the Cumbrians deserved a lot of credit for their hard work in defence.
“We had plenty of sets on their line, but we couldn’t break them down,” added the long-serving Roughyeds forward (25), who was one of Scott Naylor’s first signings back in 2013.
“We lost the ruck a bit too and that’s very unusual for us. We are normally very strong in that area, but we didn’t dictate like we normally do and that was a big problem.
“Also, our line speed and contact in defence were not as good as in the three previous games and that made a big difference as well.”
A key member of the Roughyeds pack, the workaholic Thompson has played in all but one of Oldham’s 12 games this season, seven times off the bench and four starts — two at loose-forward and two in the second-row.
In each of the three Championship wins at Bower Fold — against Dewsbury, Batley and Sheffield — he was in the starting 13 at second-row or loose.
A forward who will muck-in anywhere for the good of the team, he’s also been called on to do a shift in the front-row on numerous occasions off the bench.
He’s played loose-forward for most of his career with Wigan, Widnes and Oldham and it was in that position that he operated for Roughyeds when the Championship rookies were beaten 20-6 at Featherstone in only their fourth game after winning promotion from League One.
“We know what we did wrong at their place,” he said. “We gave them too much respect and we didn’t start well.
“This time, we need to start strong, get in their faces early and play like we did against Batley, Sheffield and Hull KR in the Cup.
“We need to hit them with a fast line speed, control the rucks and out-enthuse them; that comes naturally when you get opponents on the back foot.”
Far from proving a distraction in the squad’s battle to hold their own in the Championship, the Cup run will prove beneficial for club and players alike, he believes.
“The club needs the revenue and the players get the opportunity to test themselves against Super League opposition.
“Despite losing at Whitehaven, we’ve grown in confidence after our win at Hull KR and I’m sure that will stand us in good stead in the weeks and months ahead.
“We’ve got to take it one game at a time. All our focus is now on Featherstone. Warrington can wait.
“Scott (head coach Naylor) gave us the night off on Tuesday and it was a welcome break — our first night off since Christmas.
“It was good to chill out. We’ll see on Sunday whether it did anything for us.”