WIDNES Vikings head coach Kieron Purtill has named a strong squad for Sunday’s fourth-round Coral Challenge Cup tie at Bower Fold (3pm) which includes hooker Dominic Speakman, who has recently returned to the club after spells with St Helens, Barrow and Dewsbury.
He is in line to play his first game for the Vikings this season, having been re-signed post takeover to replace Liam Hood, who has gone to Leigh Centurions.
Purtill’s 19-man squad is made up of 16 of the 17 who beat Rochdale 50-4 at the Crown Oil Arena last Sunday (attendance 1,732) plus Speakman, Owen Farnworth and Sam Freeman.
With no Anthony Gelling, who is back home Down Under for two weeks for family reasons, Harrison Hansen, Hep Cahill and McGraff Leuluai are the ‘big’ names, but most members of the squad are local lads of real quality with heaps of rep honours at schoolboy and academy levels.
Squad: Keanan Brand, Owen Buckley, Hep Cahill, Jay Chapelhow, Ted Chapelhow, Danny Craven, Chris Dean, Owen Farnworth, Sam Freeeman, Harrison Hansen, Ryan Ince, Jordan Johnstone, McGraff Leuluai, Joe Lyons, Jack Owens, Lloyd Roby, Dominic Speakman, Brad Walker, Sam Wilde.
The line-up at Rochdale last time out was: Owens; Buckley, Brand, Roby, Ince; Craven, Lyons; Hansen, Johnstone, Cahill, Dean, Wilde, Johnson. Subs: J Chapelhow, T Chapelhow, Leuluai Walker,
Full-back Owens, who made his Vikings debut at 16 and later had spells with St Helens, Sheffield and Leigh, frequently sliced open Rochdale’s defence and won the man-of-the-match award.
Winger Ryan Ince, another local and home-grown in the Vikings youth nursery, scored four tries to prove that he doesn’t have to rely on Gelling’s quality as his centre to get to the line.
He is currently the top try scorer in the Championship, capitalising on his side’s expansive style of rugby which has earned Vikings six wins out of seven games. With 221 points in total they’re averaging more than 30 points a game while conceding, on average, 17.
Said Oldham boss Scott Naylor:
“They’ve been winning consistently week after week, playing a great brand of rugby. The challenge for us is huge, but it’s one we relish and are excited about.”
Normal admission prices apply, namely £14 adults, £12 concessions and £2 under-16s. To have a seat (get there early) it’s £16 adults, £14 concessions, £5 under-16s.
Widnes are bringing a large following — they had more than 1,000 at Rochdale — so we recommend early arrival to ease congestion at the turnstiles.