Matty Beharrell, the Doncaster half-back who has given Oldham a lot of trouble several times in the past, is not included in the 19 named by head coach Richard Horne for tomorrow’s (Sunday) big game at the Vestacare Stadium.
The club’s website gives no explanation for the absence of the former Newcastle and Swinton half, who scored a try; created another for Rangi Chase; kicked three goals; and landed the late drop goal that gave Doncaster a 23-22 home win against London Skolars last Sunday.
League Express reported that Beharrell was game star, game breaker and the Dons’ man of the match.
Hinting that selection might have been influenced by a Vestacare Stadium pitch that is a lot narrower than the one Doncaster normally play on at the Keepmoat Stadium, Steve Hossack wrote in the Doncaster Free Press:
“Several players who otherwise would have been in contention were not considered due to Oldham’s pitch.
“It doesn’t suit the expansive game he (Horne) likes his side to play.”
Fifteen of the 17 on duty last week are included in the 19, however, although Beharrell is the major omission.
Significantly, perhaps, the Dons boss has brought in Ryan Boyle after suspension and Jack Brown on dual-reg from Hull FC, both of them front-row forwards.
And he’s quoted like this on the club’s website:
“It’s a real tight pitch and it’s hard to avoid it being a really physical battle. We went there in the 1895 Cup (they won 24-12) and we were really disciplined.
“It will be similar this time. They are big and powerful so we’ll have to match them in the middle area to get the result we want.
“Ruck tempo will be key and we need to make sure our contact is good. We want to control the game if we can.”
He felt that as Oldham had won six of their last seven games since they were beaten twice by Doncaster on successive Sundays at the beginning of June, Roughyeds would have a lot more self belief now than they appeared to have back then.
He will pick from these 19:
Watson Boas, Connor Bower, Ryan Boyle, Jack Brown, Rangi Chase, Matty Chrimes, Sam Doherty, Brandon Douglas, Brad Foster, Tom Holliday, Jordie Hedges, Evan Hodgson, Jordan Howden, Kyle Kesik, Frankie Mariano, Richie Owen, Connor Scott, Russ Spiers, Jason Tali.
Oldham will announce their 19-man squad later today after this morning’s Captain’s Run.
Turnstiles will open at 1pm to give fans a couple of hours before kick-off to enjoy fun and laughter among the 20 stalls and games that will be set up on the grass football pitch as part of the club’s Mayoral and 999 Day —- the biggest event of its kind ever staged by Oldham RLFC.