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The boys are back in town

A NEW-LOOK Oldham side, which has done well in its two pre-season games to date, will be back in town on Sunday for the first time in nearly two and a half years.

After playing at Stalybridge in 2016 and 2017, Scott Naylor’s much-changed squad returns ‘home’ this weekend to play its third and final warm-up match against Betfred League 1 rivals Keighley Cougars at the revamped and much-improved Vestacare Stadium, Limehurst Village, kick-off 3pm.

The biggest change will see Roughyeds playing on the ground’s new state-of-the-art artificial pitch for the first time, although they have been training on it regularly during pre-season.

“It will be a fast game on that surface; just the opposite to what we had in those atrocious conditions at Barrow last Sunday,” said Naylor.

In their two previous friendlies against Championship sides Rochdale and Barrow, Naylor’s men won 28-24 at the Crown Oil Arena to regain the Law Cup and then lost 16-6 at Barrow with a reshaped side that included five trialists.

Of the 19-man squad at Barrow, only seven players were at the club last season and two of those, Craig Briscoe and Phil Joy played very little rugby because of injury. Both came through their big test — a major plus for Naylor and the club.

A highlight of the impressive win at Rochdale was the two-try performance of big centre Matt Reid, who also crossed the line at Craven Park only to be ruled offside when chasing and picking up Dave Hewitt’s grubber at top speed on a sloppy surface.

In both games, Naylor was chuffed by his side’s resolve, desire and determination and he will be looking for similar hard work and enthusiasm against a Keighley side that has lost both its friendlies to date; 46-20 at Barrow and 28-0 at home to Batley.

His one reservation about the Barrow display was the struggle to make the most of sustained pressure and convert it into points, so he will also be looking for a sharper cutting edge in his attack on the firm and true surface.

He won’t pick his squad until the end of the week, but there’s every chance that most of his ten new signings — full-back Kyran Johnson from Featherstone Rovers, goal-kicking half-back Paul Crook (Whitehaven), outside backs Dave Eccleston (St Helens), Danny Rasool (Warrington), Jack Holmes (Rochdale), Matt Reid (Coventry Bears) and forwards Luke Nelmes (Halifax), Adam Jones (Swinton), Liam Bent (Salford) and Danny Bridge (Redcliffe Dolphins, Australia) — will be making their home debuts.

Bent (dislocated elbow), hookers Gareth Owen (foot) and Kenny Hughes, who had surgery on a damaged finger on Monday, are definitely out, but Naylor says all three are on schedule to be back before the end of February.

Sunday’s game will be Oldham’s first at the Vestacare (formerly Whitebank) Stadium since their terrific 31-20 win against the Cougars in the Promotion Final at the end of the 2015 season.

Both teams are much-changed because of comings and goings over the last two seasons and in Oldham’s case only six players are still at the club — Hughes, Owen, Adam Neal, Danny Langtree, Phil Joy and Jack Holmes, who left for Rochdale and then came back after a season and a bit at the Crown Oil Arena.

Naylor will choose from his 18 fit contracted players, plus five trialists,

Oldham (from): Barlow, Bridge, Briscoe, Crook, Davies, Eccleston, Hewitt, Holmes, Johnson, Jones, Joy, Langtree, Maders, Martin, McComb, Neal, Nelmes, Nield, Rasool, Reid, Spencer, West, Wilkinson.

Keighley (from): Hawkyard, Dixon, Barnes, Ryder, Gabriel, Hardcastle, Beharrel, Law, Conroy, Bailey, Senior, Tonks, Emmett, O’Sullivan, Lynam, Wright, Leeming, Nicholson, Kenga, Parker.

Admission prices are £10 adults, £6 concessions, £2 under-16s with a £2 across-the-board transfer for a seat in the stand.



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AS lockdown restrictions start to ease, now is the time for everyone connected with Oldham RLFC to do all they can to help with getting income from our Club Cash lottery back to where it was before the pandemic started to bite.

This is vital for the club and its finances which, as you all know, have taken a massive hit in the past 12 months.

Collectors will be returning to door-to-door visits in the next few weeks and we hope people who suspended payments will pick up where they left off as we strive and work hard to get back to where we were before the pandemic caused us to lose 50 per cent of our lottery income.

Many of our regular punters, who would normally pay a collector, have answered our calls for help by finding other ways to pay and to retain their chances of winning prizes.

To those people we are very grateful and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them once again for their loyal and continued support.

The lottery, of course, is potentially one of our biggest fund-raisers and for as little as £1 a week — more if you wish — you can help the club immensely and at the same time have chances to win £1,000, £100, £50, £25 or one of ten consolation prizes of £10.

That’s the present prize structure. There’s every chance it will be increased once we are out of lockdown, door-to-door collections start again and we get back to some sort of normality.

In the meantime you can join, or start up again, by contacting the club on 07904 898177 or by email to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

For more information about the lottery, and for the “great opportunities” provided by our partnership with the National Youth and Community Development Association (NYCDA) go our Club Cash page.

There, you will find all the results and a detailed statement about getting back to normal with the help of our not-for-profit partners.

All proceeds from the partnership will continue to support the club and help us to meet the aims of our Club Cash activities, particularly in its aims and objectives to be an active stakeholder in the local community.

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