NEWCASTLE Thunder can go second and push Oldham into third place in Betfred League 1 if they beat London Skolars today (Saturday) at Kingston Park.
Rarely have Roughyeds fans wanted Skolars to win a game as much as this one, but the in-form North-Easterners will be strong favourites as they bid to win their sixth game in a row.
Said hooker Keal Carlile, formerly of Featherstone Rovers:
“Skolars are one of the best and biggest teams in the division so if we aren’t on our game it will be a dogfight.
“League 1 is hard. It’s not as fast or as flowing as the Championship, but you’ve got big blokes powering down the middle at you and it’s tough, really tough.”
Oldham, who have two free weekends, catch their breath after a run of nine weeks in a row without a break.
They’ve not had a free weekend since May 12 and since then they’ve played eight league games, winning six, plus an 1895 Cup game against Doncaster.
Since leaving the field after beating North Wales Crusaders on July 14 they’ve been given time off until this Thursday, July 25, which then gives them ten days to prepare for their next match at London Skolars on Saturday, August 3 (3pm kick-off).
They will be one day short of three weeks between games and only time will tell whether that will be a positive, giving players plenty of rest and time to shake off bump and bruises, or a negative in terms of breaking from routine.
After the trip to London come Oldham’s two remaining home games against Newcastle and Doncaster on August 11 and 18.
They will be on successive Sundays at the Vestacare Stadium and will give Scott Naylor’s men an opportunity to avenge defeats by both these teams on their grounds earlier in the campaign.
Throw Rangi Chase into the mix when Doncaster come here in the final home game of the regular season on August 18 and fans will recognise that August 11 and 18 are diary dates of real significance.
Roughyeds have won six of their eight home league games so far, beating Whitehaven, London Skolars, Coventry Bears, Keighley Cougars, West Wales Raiders and North Wales Crusaders.
Their two home defeats were to Workington on the opening day of the season back in February and to Hunslet on Good Friday.
Their three away defeats were at Newcastle, Doncaster and Whitehaven , but they will be keen to avoid more away-day blues at Skolars — and then come those cracking home games against Thunder and Doncaster.
For the time being, however, all eyes will be on Thunder’s game against Skolars today.
The home side’s 19-man squad includes Lewis Young, who has been out injured since a dramatic 19-18 win at Doncaster in June, and Leeds Rhinos youngster Muizz Mutapha, who has joined Thunder on a four-week loan.