OLDHAM RL Club’s reward for finishing second in Betfred League 1 to Whitehaven, who go up automatically, is a home run in the play-offs up to and including the final on October 6.
While 3 v 4 and 5 v 6 were battling it out last Sunday, Roughyeds were resting.
And if they beat fourth-placed Doncaster at the Vestacare Stadium on Sunday (2pm kick-off) they’ll go straight through to a promotion final on October 6 which will also be played at the Vestacare.
Even if they lose to Doncaster they’ll get another shot next week against the winners of the Newcastle-Workington clash — and that will be at home too!
Roughyeds couldn’t have a better chance of joining Whitehaven in the Championship next season but to take it they’ve got to make home advantage count on a ground where they’ve only been beaten once in the league since the opening day of the season last February.
They last slipped up at the Vestacare Stadium in the league on Good Friday, April 19 when Hunslet won 36-28 and since then it’s been home-sweet-home all the way for the Roughyeds who’ve recorded wins against Coventry Bears, Keighley Cougars, West Wales Raiders, North Wales Crusaders, Newcastle Thunder and Doncaster.
“It’s nice to think of the Vestacare as a fortress,” said head coach Scott Naylor.
“We’re hoping for a big crowd to turn up and get behind the lads because big home support can make all the difference in a tight game.”
He will pick from a fully-fit squad which will include centre Cameron Leeming, who tweaked a hamstring at Coventry and didn’t play in the next game at Hunslet.
Utility forward Ed Smith, out recently with a rib injury, is also fit again while winger Declan Kay,who was concussed at Hunslet, will have finished his head-injury protocol and head test and will be ready to go.
Others who haven’t played in the last two games, like half-back Adam Brook and young on-loan prop Jimmy Beckett, will be pushing their claims.
“I’ll have plenty of selection decisions to make, but that’s how I like it.
“Until last Sunday, Newcastle were playing well. We were probably the only team to beat them in the last couple of months.
“Doncaster must have played really well to go up there and beat them, so they’ll be coming here full of confidence after trouncing Workington and Newcastle, both away, in their last two outings.
“We’ll have to be at our best, that’s for sure; not like we were in the first half at Hunslet but how we played in the second half.”