OLDHAM go into their massive game at York on Sunday bidding to become only the third Betfred League 1 side to beat the City Knights this season and only the second to turn them over at Bootham Crescent.
The table-toppers have won 21 of their 23 league games, losing only to title rivals Bradford Bulls 20-22 at home on the season’s opening day in February and to Whitehaven in Cumbria 26-18 at the end of May.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge, but we’ll give it a go and see what happens,” said Roughyeds boss Scott Naylor.
He added: “York are top of the league for a reason.
“They’re structured, patient, well coached, good at set completion, able to wear down opponents and they know how to win a close game. They never panic.”
Their 24-22 win at the Vestacare Stadium in March was a real humdinger and one of only six games this year that they’ve won by four points or fewer.
The other five were Doncaster away (16-14), Hunslet away (26-24), London Skolars away (22-20), Workington away (18-14) and Bradford away (30-28).
On a similar theme, seven of Oldham’s eight losses were by eight points or fewer: York home (22-24), Hunslet home (16-24), Hunslet away (12-16), Workington home (14-16), Keighley away (8-15), Doncaster away (22-26) and Newcastle away (18-24).
Fine margins indeed !
It might be clutching at straws but it’s an intriguing fact that, outside the top two, Roughyeds have scored more points and conceded fewer than each of the other 11 sides in the division.
“That’s why it’s been such a frustrating season,” said Naylor. “You’ve still lost, whether it’s by two points or 200.
“We’ve been a little bit short in finishing teams off, but it’s not over yet by a long chalk.
“When we played York here both teams were good and it was one of the best games of the season.”
They scored four tries apiece, York edging it because Connor Robinson landed four conversions to Paul Crook’s three . . . and the one he missed smacked an upright and bounced out.
Then, in the dying minutes, Kenny Hughes and David Hewitt were both stopped inches short as Roughyeds went all out for the winning try.
Fine margins indeed !
Naylor reported that everyone was fit to train on Tuesday night apart from centre Danny Rasool, who hurt a knee in the 58-6 home win against Coventry Bears.
Full-back Kyran Johnson was expected to have treatment for shoulder trouble, but he trained normally and might be available for selection by weekend.
Naylor will pick from the 17 who were on duty against Coventry plus Dave Eccleston, Matt Reid, Steven Nield, Dave Hewitt, Liam Bent, Zack McComb and Johnson if he is declared fit.
Other games this weekend that will affect the jostle for play-off spots are Newcastle Thunder v Workington Town (Saturday) and Keighley Cougars v Doncaster and Whitehaven v Hunslet (Sunday).