HAVING seen his side leak 122 points in their last two games, Scott Naylor will be demanding a “massive” improvement in the tackling department when Oldham face neighbours Rochdale Hornets in Saturday’s Summer Bash game at Blackpool.
The focus at training last night was placed on how Roughyeds might replicate the defensive desires and strategies that restricted Sheffield to 10 points and Featherstone to eight in the first two games of the season and, more recently, Halifax to 16 at The Shay.
In their four KP Championship games at Bower Fold — three wins, one loss — Naylor’s men have let in 17.5 points a game when averaged out.
Away from their adopted home at Stalybridge they’ve taken some hefty lashings, conceding 48 at Hull KR, 50 at Batley, 58 at Toulouse, 74 at London Broncos, 48 in the return game against Batley, played at Manchester’s Regional Athletics Centre.
They’ve still let in fewer points than four of their bottom seven rivals in Sheffield, Batley, Dewsbury and Bradford — an indication that teams generally are not as switched-on defensively as perhaps they once were.
Said Naylor: “Our attacking against Batley last Sunday was good, especially in the first half. But we need a massive improvement in defence against Rochdale and that was the theme of last night’s training session.
“It’s not just the physical aspect of tackling well; it’s the individual and collective attitude towards defence that needs to be looked at.
“Rochdale have had a long run of defeats, but there’s never a shortage of fierce rivalry in Oldham-Rochdale clashes and form will go out of the window.
“We need to get the small things right and if we do that we will give ourselves a chance of winning.”
He confirmed that Scott Turner was now “good to go” after satisfying medics that he was fully recovered from the affects of concussion.
Kenny Hughes took a knock last time out and limped away from the Etihad Complex, but he had treatment last night and has assured Naylor he will be okay by weekend.