Summer Bash showdown could be crucial


OLDHAM’S Summer Bash clash with Swinton Lions in Blackpool on Sunday (3pm) will be the second of FOUR games between last season’s League One promotion duo that could have a major influence on who goes the other way and exits the Championship after one year up.

Roughyeds won home and away in 2015 on their way to a League One trophy double, but the Lions followed them to the Championship via the play-offs and then regained their derby-day pride with a 28-18 win on Easter Monday this year in only their second game at their temporary home, Sale RU Club.

They lost their first seven games in the higher division, but stunned a lethargic Roughyeds by picking up their first win — the start of an amazing change of fortune.

They won five in a row, including eyebrow-raising victories at Halifax and Batley, and only lost their momentum when faced with first Bradford Bulls and then, last Sunday, Leigh Centurions.

They play the return fixture at Bower Fold on Sunday, July 10 and they will meet again, for the fourth time, in the additional fixtures involving the bottom eight teams in the division during August and September.

“They are a good side, but on the day we lost at their place we let ourselves down badly,” said Oldham captain Lewis Palfrey, who will be hoping to regain his place in the side after being left out for the last two games against Leigh and Halifax.

He added: “We didn’t perform at anything like our usual levels so in the big one at Blackpool on Sunday we owe it to ourselves and to everyone associated with the club to find the form that, after Swinton, enabled us to beat Batley, Sheffield and then Hull KR away in the cup.

“It was always going to take time for us to adjust to the higher levels. Oddly enough, we’ve shocked teams that few would have expected us to beat yet we’ve gone down to teams who most people thought we would probably defeat. It’s a very tight division, which continues to produce surprises every week.

“The Summer Bash crowd will be bigger than anything most of us have experienced before. There will be a great atmosphere and we’re hoping to see, and hear, lots of fans in red and white.”

The Oldham team will be much changed from the last meeting when Adam Clay, Jamel Chisholm, Steve Roper, Danny Langtree and Joe Burke didn’t play; Richard Lepori played on the wing; and Jack Holmes went off in the first half with an ankle injury that was to keep him out for several weeks.

Swinton later signed Halifax prop Andy Bracek on a month’s loan, which they want to extend in time for him to keep his place in the side at Blackpool.

They have also signed on loan, only last Friday, Bradford Bulls prop Dan Fleming (23), who made his debut off the bench in a feisty game against Leigh.

Formerly with Rochdale, Batley and Castleford, Fleming and Leigh’s Jake Emmitt were sin-binned near the end for fighting.

Earlier, Gareth Hock (Leigh) and Zach Johnson (Swinton) were sent off for trading punches; Mike Butt (Swnton) and Adam Higson (Leigh) were shown yellow cards; and Swinton’s Josh Barlow was dismissed for entering the field off the bench to try and break up a fight.

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