Second-row juggernauts Danny Bridge and Danny Langtree can tip the scales in Oldham’s favour against Hunslet at the South Leeds Stadium.
Sunday’s big game, which has an enormous amount riding on it, has the potential to be a cracker, writes ROGER HALSTEAD.
It might be the last day of the regular Betfred League 1 season but with play-off positions at stake it will be more like a sudden-death cup-tie in terms of intensity and passion.
For Oldham it could make all the difference between meeting Newcastle Thunder in a promotion final at the Vestacare Stadium or up on Tyneside at Kingston Park, assuming they get that far of course.
Hunslet have struggled at home this season against half-decent sides, going down to Doncaster (20-22), Newcastle (12-26), Whitehaven (12-19) and Workington (16-30).
Roughyeds have won eight of the last nine and played their best rugby of the season to turn over Newcastle and then Doncaster on successive Sundays last month.
Oddly enough, though, Scott Naylor’s men usually find Hunslet a tough side to conquer.
Since edging a Championship One play-off 25-24 in 2014, Roughyeds have gone down in each of the last four meetings.
First there was that Grand Final at Headngley when Thomas Coyle’s golden-point drop goal broke Oldham hearts and earned the Yorkshiremen a 17-16 win in an extra-time thriller.
The sides didn’t meet again until 1918 when Hunslet won 24-16 at the Vestacare and 16-12 in South Leeds.
Then came that epic at the Vestacare on Good Friday this year when a Hunslet side inspired by Adam Robinson snatched a 36-28 win with three converted tries in the last few minutes following three yellow cards and one red.
In a game like this you can chuck the form guide into the ‘out’ tray.
But there are good reasons why I’m going for ‘Langers’ and ‘Bridgey’ to see Oldham home. They are quality players at this level. That’s a given.
More than that though, Danny Bridge is a player who invariably hits his best in a big game. Put him in a white-hot arena with everything at stake and that’s when you see the best of Danny Boy.
The same can be said of ‘Langers’. He’s always been a marked man and especially so since his return from Hull.
It was his first game back when Hunslet won here in April and they had three men into the tackle every time he got the ball.
‘Langers’ won’t have forgotten that and he’ll have something to prove this time.
With ‘Langers’ on the right and his second-row partner doing his stuff on the other side of the field it might just be a Bridge too far for Hunslet this time.
- A reminder that ORSA are holding a Quiz Night in the sponsors suite at the Vestacare tonight (Thurs), starting at 8pm.
It’s £1 to enter the quiz and prizes include a £200 jackpot.