Defensive screen put to the test

OLDHAM’S Iron Curtain of a defence, the best in Betfred League 1 so far, will be put to a severe test in Good Friday’s clash at Bradford Bulls (6pm kick-off).

Red-hot favourites to finish top and win promotion automatically, the Bulls have won each of their three league games to date as well as a third-round hammering of West Wales Raiders in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup — a 100 per cent start to the season which the full-timers will be keen to maintain on Friday.

Coached by John Kear, their latest win was a 32-12 triumph against Hunslet at the Provident Stadium, Odsal in a performance that Kear believed was below their best.

With ball in hand, Roughyeds were also undercooked in their 30-2 win at North Wales Crusaders, but Kear can’t fail to have been impressed by Oldham’s defensive work which, remarkably, has seen them concede only five tries in five league and cup outings this season.

That’s got to be defensive work of the highest order and it will be fascinating to see how Bradford’s high scorers cope with Oldham’s Iron Curtain after amassing an average of 36 points a game in their three league wins so far.

Returning to the club for which he starred in Grand Finals and Challenge Cup finals in some of the most iconic stadiums in the country, Scott Naylor will pick from a relatively injury-free squad.

Only Ben Davies is a current casualty so Naylor will have all last Sunday’s squad at his disposal plus Kyran Johnson, Matt Reid, Steven Nield, Gareth Owen, Adam Neal, Adam Jones and Danny Rasool.

Johnson is ready to go again after missing the last two games with a dislocated finger; centre Reid and prop Neal were rested at Wrexham (the second of three games in ten days); and Jones is available again after suffering concussion against Featherstone Lions a month ago.

Like fellow forward Phil Joy, concussed against York but back in the side last weekend, Jones has now passed a head test and is ready for action.



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