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Roughyeds raring to go for Dons Challenge Cup clash

THIS Sunday sees Oldham’s first competitive rugby league match in over five months as Stuart Littler’s men travel to Doncaster in the 2nd Round of the Challenge Cup, 3.00pm kick off.

There are 11 new faces from the side that lost to Rochdale Hornets in last year’s play-offs, with a big emphasis on experience.

Accomplished campaigners such as Gregg McNally, Patrick Ah Van and Jack Blagbrough have been signed in a bid to win promotion after what was a transition period last year.

There have been changes in the backroom staff too, with Daniel Bedford coming in as strength and conditioning coach and Lee Cholmondeley as physio in a bid to get Roughyeds fitter and stronger.

Doncaster have bolstered their squad as well with the likes of Brett Ferres, Elliot Hall and Matt James as they look to reach the Championship at the third time of asking after two consecutive play-off final defeats.

The Dons have already set a marker in the league after they beat promotion-rivals Hunslet 18-16 last Sunday.

But the Challenge Cup is a different beast, and anything can happen as proven last year when Oldham lost to amateur club Lock Lane.

Vice-captain Emmerson Whittel is happy for others to do the talking and has high hopes for the season ahead.

“Doncaster will definitely be up there, we’re quite happy to go under the radar, though, and teams might get a shock when they face us,” he said.

“I think we’re miles ahead than we were last year and the new lads who we’ve signed have slotted in quite nicely with the lads that we kept from 2022.”

“Everything seems to be working so far; we’re quite fit since Dan has come in - we’re definitely getting a lot of miles in the legs.”

Patrick Ah Van will be hoping his good form from pre-season will continue as he is just three tries away from a 150 career total.

Roughyeds have shown quality in pre-season through well-worked plays and have been deadly on the wings, but they have also shown a tendency to start games slowly.

In training, the focus has been on minimising errors and those slow starts.

“We’ve focused on getting our skill right and we’ve been working on being more cohesive and not having people making different decisions when we are defending,”

said head coach Littler.

Admission prices for the tie on the day at the Eco Power Stadium are £15 for adults, £1 for ages 17 and under, and free for ages five and under.

There will be a £2 discount for adults who choose to purchase tickets in advance and you can buy them at Doncaster’s ticketing site.

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