IF Oldham can repeat their Hull KR form of last week, a cracker is in prospect when Halifax come over the hill for Sunday’s tasty-looking KP Championship clash at Bower Fold.
Determined to end a run of five straight losses, Roughyeds will take great heart from their best performance in weeks when holding the runaway league leaders to eight points.
Halifax got their top-four challenge back on track by thrashing Sheffield 54-0 away and know they must win on Sunday to retain a realistic hope of ousting Toulouse, London or Featherstone from the Super 8s Qualifiers.
A preview piece on the Fax website says victory at Bower Fold has to be regarded as “priceless”.
For different reasons, Roughyeds will say the same — and Welsh prop Joe Burke believes they can come up with another stellar performance on the green, green grass of home to give themselves a good chance of victory.
With only a couple of minutes gone he backed up Scott Leatherbarrow’s break last week to score his fourth try of the season under the sticks.
Said the 11-times Welsh international: “We knew we could play a lot better than we had been doing and with a few points to prove we did it against the top team in the league.
“Unlike previous games, we didn’t panic. We stuck to the game plan, went back to basics, made fewer mistakes and completed well.
“We’ll take a lot of confidence from that, even though we didn’t win, and we’ll be aiming to put in a repeat performance against Halifax.
“We’ve a lot of home games coming up now and we love playing at Bower Fold.
“We’ll take it one game at a time with the focus not so much on our opponents, but on ourselves. It’s all about what we do.”
A huge plus last week was the massively influential role of the halves, Leatherbarrow and David Hewitt.
Back in direct charge after a two-match touchline ban — another boost — Scott Naylor will have tough selection decisions to make, given that the side played so well without Richard Lepori, Michael Ward, Sammy Gee, Liam Thompson and Danny Grimshaw.
Huddersfield youngsters Sam Wood (centre), Darnell McIntosh (wing) and Tyler Dickinson, powerful at prop off the bench, contributed significantly against the Robins and, one way or the other, the dual-reg arrangement might be another key factor in the selection process.
In the rout of Sheffield, Fax used their dual-reg link with Salford to play Daniel Murray at prop and Matthew Wilkinson on the bench.
They were without the injured Ben Heaton, James Saltonstall, Ben Kaye and Adam Tangata, but they hope to have Kaye and Tangata back in the mix and they were thrilled by the performances of centre James Woodburn-Hall and wing Connor McGrath.
They probably wouldn’t have made the 17 had Heaton and Saltonstall been fit, but they scored five tries between them and by all accounts ripped the Eagles apart out wide.
Goalkicking centre Steve Tyrer is another in top form. He’s chalked up 1,352 points for Fax since 2012 and needs only 22 more for a career 2,000.
With 15 tries and 64 goals this year he’s the Championship’s second top try and points scorer.
With Featherstone on Challenge Cup duty, a Fax win would take them to within one point of fourth-placed Rovers, and the men from The Shay have still to go to Featherstone and Toulouse and take on Hull KR at home.
Since winning promotion to the Championship last season, Oldham are still seeking their first win in four outings against Richard Marshall’s men, although there have been two neck-and-neck games at Halifax, 12-6 last season and 16-14 this year.
It all points to another Bower Fold cracker and one that Roughyeds fans won’t want to miss.