OLDHAM RL go to Bradford Bulls on Sunday (3pm) with heavy hearts, busted bodies and in search of their first win since the end of April.
Seven losses in a row have put a damper on the club’s 20th anniversary campaign and it won’t get any easier at Odsal where Roughyeds will be forced to field a weakened side because Scott Turner, Phil Joy, Gareth Owen, Danny Grimshaw, Craig Briscoe and Richard Lepori are injured.
Kieran Gill and Tuoyo Egodo, the loan pair from Castleford, are no longer on the agenda and dual-reg players from Huddersfield Giants were not available to Roughyeds on Wednesday when second-bottom Dewsbury Rams nicked a 20-16 win at Bower Fold.
Rams scored two fluke tries while Roughyeds suffered from losing three key players injured and also having prop Adam Neal sent to the ‘cooler’ for ten minutes.
The loan signings of London Broncos pair Kameron Pearce-Paul and Sadiq Adebiyi will help, but Roughyeds will also be hoping for assistance from the Giants, particularly in filling the full-back role.
With Lepori, Turner and Owen out of the equation, the No 1 vacancy will be the toughest to fill on Sunday.
Sammy Gee has played there in the past, but he doesn’t relish the role.
Whatever the strengths or weaknesses of Sunday’s line-up, however, Oldham will take comfort from Bradford’s own plight. The Bulls have lost nine on the spin — two more than Scott Naylor’s men.
Rochdale were without a win in 10 before they hit back in the second half to lower Roughyeds’ colours at Summer Bash, so Oldham are not on their own in struggling to climb out of a barren spell.
The club also has a reputation for coping with adversity and coming out stronger at the other side. It’s been happening for years and with strong characters at the helm like chairman Chris Hamilton and head coach Scott Naylor there’s every chance it will happen again.
“And it’s not as though we haven’t been there before,” said Hamilton, who vividly recalls a similar run this time last year.
In their first season up at Championship level, Naylor’s men lost eight in a row between May 1 and June 26, conceding 56 points at home to Leigh, 42 at Batley, 46 at Dewsbury, 48 at home to Bradford, 56 at London Broncos and crashing to Swinton Lions at Summer Bash after commanding a big lead at half-time.
They then pulled things round to win six of their last 12 and to finish above relegated duo Workington and Whitehaven.
“We’ve done it once and we can do it again,” added Hamilton. “The important thing is that we haven’t to start feeling sorry for ourselves.
“We have to go to Bradford determined to get the two points and I know the lads will give it everything they’ve got as they did on Wednesday.”
Bradford’s survival hopes have been rocked by confirmation that talented half-back Dane Chisholm is out injured for the rest of the season,
Lee Smith is still six weeks away from a return, but the positive news coming out of the club is that Aussie coach Geoff Toovey’s long-awaited visa application is now through and the former NRL man can now lead his new charges from the front.
He was in charge for the first time when Bulls lost 28-14 at Rochdale last Sunday so Sunday’s game will mark his first appearance at home.