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WIN or lose, Oldham’s promotion decider against Newcastle Thunder at the Vestacare Stadium on Sunday (3pm) is bound to be an emotional affair.

It will be head coach Scott Naylor’s last game in charge after seven years at the club and he would love nothing better than to sign off by seeing Roughyeds return to the Betfred Championship.

Coincidence or not, Naylor’s men have won each of their six games since the boss announced his pending departure, at the end of the season, before the game at London Skolars on August 3.

In so doing they finished second to Whitehaven in Betfred League 1 and then beat Doncaster 22-12 at home in a play-off tie to go straight through to Sunday’s final which will be played at the Vestacare Stadium as Oldham’s reward for finishing the regular season on top of the play-off group.

Newcastle lost at home to Doncaster in their first play-off tie, then beat Workington at home in the next round to set up another home clash against Doncaster for the right to meet Oldham away in the final.

They coasted to an easy 34-4 win snd now look forward to Sunday’s final at Oldham where Roughyeds have not been beaten since Hunslet won there in mid-April.

In the league, Oldham lost 28-22 on Tyneside but won 28-20 at home on August 11 — scores which reflect how close they are and how difficult it is to forecast Sunday’s outcome.

Club chairman Chris Hamilton is sure of one thing; the Roughyeds players will give everything in their efforts to send off their boss on a high.

They’ve won ten of their last 11, including the home win against Thunder in the regular fixtures, and since going down 31-0 at Doncaster on June 9 they’ve been beaten only once and that was a 16-10 reverse at champions Whitehaven, who go up automatically.

Said Hamilton:

“Every player will be busting a gut for Scott on Sunday, of that I’ve no doubt.”

Several aspects of the final are intriguing, none more so than how Oldham stop Thunder left-centre Kieran Gill, who’s well known to the home side’s players and fans, having had two spells here on loan from Castleford Tigers earlier in his career.

Since then he’s had major knee surgery and has moved up to Tyneside where he has become a Geordie hero thanks to his outstanding try-scoring feats.

He’s scored 28 tries in all competitions this season to smash Thunder’s tries-in-a-season record that has stood for 20 years.

And his 26 League 1 tries make him the division’s top try scorer by a country mile — by seven, in fact, from second-placed Gareth Potts, the Hunslet winger.

Interestingly, one of the Oldham players who will be charged with keeping an eye on Gill is right-side second-rower Danny Langtree, who will be assisting right-centre Zack McComb.

‘Langers’ can really hurt ’em in the tackle, but he’ll also be out to add to his own try-scoring figures, given that no other forward has scored as many League 1 tries this year as the Oldham star’s 17 in all competitions.

Sixteen of those were in league games and the only players to score more were all backs — Gill (26), Potts (19) and Rob Massam of North Wales Crusaders (18).

So there you have it; it could go either way; it should be a cracker; and Roughyeds will be out to stop Thunder’s backs, to boss the show in the forwards and to give Naylor the perfect send-off.

Will he be in seventh heaven come Sunday night ?

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AS you all know from your own experiences these are tough times for everybody, but we believe you will agree that OLDHAM RLFC is taking massive inspiration from the fabulous NHS and other key workers in tackling Covid head-on, while looking forward positively to the 2021 season and better times ahead thanks to the outstanding work now being done to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Nevertheless, we have to face facts and be realistic enough to accept that the club urgently needs every pound that is currently coming in from whatever source. One of those sources is our Club Cash lottery and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who support us on this. A lot of you who used to pay our collectors on the doorstep have responded to our suggestions on how to pay by different methods and we are extremely grateful for that. Thanks again. You will never know how much difference your contributions make.

Alas, our income from the lottery has dropped by more than 50 per cent over the course of the pandemic and that would be a huge blow financially at any time let alone a time of unprecedented hardship because of the pandemic. It really is a situation we seriously need to address.

With that in mind the prize fund for the duration of the latest national lockdown will be temporarily reduced from February 10.

You will still be able to win a £1,000 first prize, plus £100, £50, £25 and ten £10 prizes every week, while continuing to provide vital support for the club and it will only cost you £1 a week. You can’t get a decent coffee for that, but the difference it makes to the club when multiplied a few times over and then multiplied again by 52 – the number of weeks in the financial year – is of major significance.

If you can help us at all — for £1 a week — it would be hugely appreciated by everyone with Oldham RL Club at heart. The prize structure still represents good value for money for an outlay of £1.

To those who are already members and help us accordingly, we very much hope to retain your support at this extremely difficult time.

Should you wish to play but don’t, due to the pausing of cash collection rounds, we have other options available, which you can discuss with our lottery administrator, John McAndrew on 07980129541 or from the club on 07904 898177.

Alternatively, you can send an email to: mcandrewj@aol.com or to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

The prize fund will be increased back to previous levels as soon as latest lockdowns are released. Please watch our website and social media platforms for further announcements.

Finally, if you want more information about the lottery or you wish to discuss your membership please contact one of the numbers given above.

A huge thank-you to you all.

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