YORK City Knights, whose last defeat was at Whitehaven way back in May, have won 12 games on the bounce, which means Oldham’s crucial challenge at Bootham Crescent on Sunday is game No 13 . . . and we all know what that means.
Not that Roughyeds and Scott Naylor will be relying on the mystique to pull off an upset against the Betfred League 1 leaders; they’re far too realistic for that.
They will, however, take encouragement from that brilliant early-season game at the Vestacare Stadium which York edged 24-22 in a contest which could easily have gone either way.
Each side scored four tries, Matty Reid (2), Danny Langtree and Ben West crossing for Roughyeds and Matty Marsh, Kieren Moss, James Donaldson and Joe Batchelor going over for York.
York had dual-reg players in Marsh and Donaldson and loan men in Moss and Colton Roche.
By comparison, Roughyeds had one dual-reg man in Salford back-rower Ryan Lannon.
Connor Robinson, now the runaway leader of goals scored in Betfred League 1 with 149 (40 more than his nearest challenger), converted each of York’s four tries while Paul Crook managed only three for Oldham.
That was the only difference between the sides; one conversion.
Not only did Crook hit a post with the one he missed, but in the dying minutes both Kenny Hughes and David Hewitt went agonisingly close to snatching the winning try.
York’s defence was spot-on — and has been all season.
But so has Oldham’s and it is interesting to see the number of points conceded by the two sides across 23 games: York 282, Oldham 293, nothing in it !
The major difference has been in York’s game management and their ability to win close games, perhaps a reflection on the number of old heads they have in Ben Cockayne, Adam Robinson, Andy Ellis, Tim Spears and Graeme Horne, all over 30 and in some cases well over 30.
Last time they met the teams lined up like this:
OLDHAM: Johnson; Eccleston, Holmes, Reid, West; Crook, Hewitt; Joy, Hughes, Neal, Bridge, Langtree, Lannon. Subs: Bent, Nelmes, Spencer, Wilkinson.
YORK: Moss; Cockayne, Batchelor, Hey, Robson; C Robinson, Marsh; A Robinson, Ellis, Siddons, Horne, Scott, Spears. Subs: Jubb, Donaldson, Roche, Porter.
Peter Martini, writing in the York Press, has described Oldham as a “rough tough team who are a big threat for promotion through the play-offs.”
And City Knights coach James Ford, whose role at the club will be full time next season, has told the paper:
“We need to make sure our preparation is bang-on, as we really rate Oldham.
“We need to turn up, be as good as we can be, and aim to be better than we were against Workington. Being better than we were the week before — that’s been the ethos all season.
“We haven’t always blown teams away but my team always turns up. We will take that into the Oldham game.
“At Workington, in the drizzle, it was all about territory.
“It was a case of getting them in the corners, keeping the ball in play to zap their energy and make them have to go 80 or 90 metres.
“I’ve got a smart bunch. They understand the game and you can see that from the number of close games we’ve won.”
They’ve also got a match-winner in 21-try centre Joe Batchelor, a player with pace and class and clearly one to watch.