OLDHAM are revved-up and ready to go on the roller-coaster ride provided by the Kingstone Press Championship Shield Super 8s.
Over the next seven weeks, starting this Sunday (August 7), they will be one of six clubs battling to preserve their Championship status while simultaneously striving to qualify for the two Shield play-off spots that are still up for grabs.
“Our priority is to avoid relegation, as we indicated at the start of the year,” said assistant coach Lee Spencer. “If we finish third bottom we’ll be celebrating a job well done. Anything else will be a bonus. That’s the reality of the situation in the Championship.
“We know what we need to do. The Super 8s is a great concept and we’re ready to embrace it, starting with Workington Town — again — at Bower Fold on Sunday.
“We need to start stronger, find our best level and be more consistent. Do that in four of the seven and we’ll stay up.”
Having narrowly missed out on a chance to battle for Super League status next year, Bradford Bulls and Halifax are all but mathematically assured of filling spots one and two in the Shield play-offs.
Devastated by their failure to earn a crack at Leeds, Salford, Hull KR and Huddersfield, they are only two of 12 Championship clubs with little to play for over the next seven weeks. It will be interesting to see how that impacts on games in which opponents are battling to stay up and, in some instances, to preserve their part-time jobs.
Six clubs below Bradford and Halifax, including Roughyeds, face a punishing schedule that will test nerve and sinew and will require a fair helping of good luck too, given that clubs can no longer bolster their squads.
Come September 18, two of the six will be relegated and facing a massive drop in RFL central funding that could threaten their very existence and two will be primed for the play-offs and a chance to take centre stage on Kingstone Press Finals Day at Widnes.
Sheffield and Dewsbury will be looking over their shoulders, but it’s likely that the two to go will come from Swinton, Oldham, Workington and Whitehaven.
These are the seven “cup finals” each will play:
SWINTON (15 pts): Dewsbury (a), Oldham (h), Sheffield (a), Workington (h), Bradford (a), Halifax (h), Whitehaven (a).
OLDHAM (14): Workington (h), Swinton (a), Bradford (a), Sheffield (h), Halifax (a), Whitehaven (h), Dewsbury (a).
WORKINGTON (11): Oldham (a), Dewsbury (h), Whitehaven (h), Swinton (a), Sheffield (a), Bradford (h), Halifax (a).
WHITEHAVEN (11): Bradford (h), Sheffield (a), Workington (a), Halifax (h), Dewsbury (a), Oldham (a), Swinton (h).
Backs: Gill, Clay, Gee, Lepori, Palfrey, Owen, Hewitt, Grimshaw, Chisholm, Turner, Mendeika.
Forwards: Spencer, Burke, Files, Briscoe, Hughes, Joy, Langtree, Thompson, Hope, Ward, Blagbrough, Middlehurst.