SWINTON Lions, whom we play at Heywood Road, Sale tomorrow (Sunday) in a match which will have an important bearing for both sides on the outcome of the Betfred Championship relegation battle, will have to make at least one change because experienced on-loan forward Tom Spencer has returned to Leigh Centurions, his parent club.
The Lions lined up like this when they won their first of 15 Championship games at Dewsbury Rams last week:
Geronimo Doyle; Owen Buckley, Rhodri Lloyd, Mitch Cox, Mike Butt; Jack Hansen, Cobi Green; Paddy Jones, Luke Waterworth, Lewis Hatton, Louis Brogan, Nick Gregson, Will Hope. Subs: Deane Meadows, Ronan Michael, Tom Spencer, Paul Nash.
All bar Spencer are included in their 21-man squad for tomorrow which is completed by Sam Brooks, Jordan Brown, Tayler Brown, Ben Heyes and Martyn Ridyard.
Veteran half-back Ridyard, a former points machine with Leigh, was the Lions chief play-maker and go-to organiser when we played Swinton twice early in the season, but he wasn’t in the team at Dewsbury, where the halves were Jack Hansen and Cobi Green.
Green, 22, is a Welsh international and former Bradford Bulls player who is described on the Swinton website as “an exciting half-back with a high skill set who is keen to take on the line and promote space for others."
Second-row Ronan Michael, another player who might not be known to Oldham fans, is a young Irishman who’s on loan from Huddersfield Giants.
The Lions' win at Dewsbury, their first league win of the season, coincided with the first game in charge for Allan Coleman, who has stepped up from No 2 following the club’s decision to part company with head coach Stuart Littler.
The winning try came in the dying seconds. With the scores locked up at 18-18, Paul Sykes went for the winning drop goal, which ricocheted off Hansen, who dribbled it over the line at the other end of the field to score the winner as the hooter sounded.
A former coach of England Community Lions, Leigh reserves and Leigh Miners Rangers, Coleman goes head to head at Heywood Road with Brian McDermott, former boss of Leeds Rhinos and Toronto Wolfpack and generally recognised as the most successful coach in Super League history.
While Swinton will take heart from their last-gasp win at Dewsbury last time out, Roughyeds will be hugely buoyed by their exhilarating performances at Whitehaven and at home to London Broncos where they led from midway through the first half until five minutes from the end.
They could easily have won both those games, especially the one against London’s full-timers when they announced their team like this:
Dan Abram; Tommy Brierley, Ryan Ince, Max Roberts, Ben Holcroft; Lewis Charnock, Dave Hewitt; Liam Kirk, James Barran, Martyn Reilly, Danny Bridge, Danny Langtree, Liam Bent. Subs: Jamie Abram, Luke Nelmes, Tyler Dupree, Shaun Pick.
All 17 are in tomorrow’s 21, plus Phil Joy, Callum Green, Joe Hartley and new on-loan back Lloyd Roby, who has joined us from Widnes Vikings.
Just as a point of interest, and as far as he knows, Lloyd says he is not related to James Roby, the famous St Helens and Great Britain hooker.
Interestingly, of the last ten derby games between Roughyeds and the Lions, each side has won five, including a 26-24 win for Oldham and a 25-24 triumph for Swinton in the 2016 Summer Bash game at Blackpool.
This season, Swinton won 23-14 at Heywood Road in the Challenge Cup but Roughyeds avenged that loss five days later with a 28-20 win at Bower Fold on the opening day of the Championship season.
Tyler Dupree scored a try in each of those games and, having scored in each of the last four games against Dewsbury, Bradford, Whitehaven and London Broncos, is currently the club’s top try scorer.
Leading scorers: Tyler Dupree 6, Tommy Brierley 5, Danny Langtree 4, Martyn Reilly 4, Dan Abram 3, Ben Heaton 3.
Tomorrow’s fixtures: Batley Bulldogs v Featherstone Rovers; Bradford Bulls v Sheffield Eagles; Halifax Panthers v Newcastle Thunder; London Broncos v Toulouse Olympique; Swinton Lions v OLDHAM; Whitehaven v Dewsbury Rams; York City Knights v Widnes Vikings.
All games kick off at 3pm.