OUR head coach Scott Naylor was spot-on when he said North Wales Crusaders will arrive at the Vestacare Stadium on Sunday (3pm kick-off) on top note after their win at Newcastle Thunder last week.
Hooker Karl Ashall, who has returned to the Wrexham-based club after a spell with Barrow Raiders, is expected to be in coach Anthony Murray’s 17 for the first time since Murray got him back on a deal that runs to the end of 2019.
Delighted with their win in the North-East and still buoyed by the show they put up when losing 19-18 in controversial circumstances against Hunslet, some Cru fans will be travelling to Oldham in fancy dress and all ready to party.
On the field former Oldham player Murray expects to name a strong squad in a bid to reverse the Roughyeds relatively easy win in Wrexham in round three.
He has gone public with his view that his side’s win at Newcastle from 12-0 down should give Crusaders’ extra self-belief.
“We should be confident. Our work-rate, fitness levels, set completion and technicalities are getting better all the time.
“We’ve got to go to Oldham with a belief that we can get something from the game. We are not a fancy team but we work hard and stick together and I’m a great believer in those things.
“I want the boys to play with a smile on their face and to enjoy themselves.”
There are four former Roughyeds players at Crusaders, namely head coach Murray, scrum-half Steve Roper, forward Alex Thompson and winger Dale Bloomfield, who scored at Newcastle.
Cru fans should note that, contrary to information on their club’s website, the game will NOT be played at Bower Fold, but at a refurbished Vestacare Stadium (used to be known as Whitebank) which is much smarter than it once was and now has a state-of-the-art artificial pitch.
The old playing surface slope has gone and the ground generally has had a major make-over with smarter fences, barriers and walk-ways.