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Now Oldham go to Swinton in Challenge Cup

HAVING  won 22-10 up at Barrow in round three of the Challenge Cup, Oldham will go to Heywood Road in round four to play more Championship opposition in Swinton Lions, who beat West Hull 50-6 In the second batch of third-round ties.

Latest results: Widnes Vikings 50, Doncaster 16; Swinton Lions 50, West Hull 6; Rochdale Hornets 24, Midlands Hurricanes 20; Hunslet 14, Keighley 22; Halifax Panthers 32, Whitehaven 4; Bradford Bulls 48, North Wales Crusaders 2; Thatto Heath 0, Featherstone Rovers 72; Batley Bulldogs 48, Workington Town 18; Dewsbury Rams 8, York 14.

Saturday scores: Sheffield Eagles 88, Newcastle Thunder 12; Stanningley 4, Wath Brow Hornets 30; Cornwall 10, York Acorn 18; BARROW 10, OLDHAM 22; Hammersmith Hills Hoists 22, Wests Warriors 12; Lock Lane 6, Hunslet ARLFC 46; Siddal 6, Wakefield Trinity 70.

Revised fourth-round draw: Batley Bulldogs v Rochdale Hornets; Bradford Bulls v Widnes Vikings; York Acorn v Wath Brow Hornets; York v Sheffield; Halifax v Hammersmith Hills Hoists; Keighley v Featherstone Rovers; Wakefield Trinity v Hunslet ARLFC;  Swinton Lions v OLDHAM.

With an interest still in both the Challenge Cup and the 1895 Cup, plus League One, of course, coach Sean Long has shrugged off hinted suggestions that his side might be more interested in the 1895 Cup than the Challenge Cup, given that promotion has to be the priority target for the 2024 season and that, of the two knock-out competitions, Super League clubs are not involved in the 1895 Cup.

That tournament, involving most of the clubs in League One and the Championship, has been designed specifically to give clubs outside Super League a better chance of reaching the Holy Grail, Wembley.

OLDHAM HAVE NEVER PLAYED IN THAT WORLD- FAMOUS  STADIUM AND TO DO THAT, EVEN IN THE AB SUNDECKS 1895 CUJP WOULD BE A MASSSIVE EVENT IN THE SPORTING HISTORY OF OUR TOWN, writes ROGER HALSTEAD.

Long takes the view, however, that EVERY game is there to be won and it’s his job to see Oldham  be the best they can be whenever they take to the field in whatever the competition. One has only to consider his burning desire to win the Law Cup and to recognise how he had his players fired up to do so well at Barrow to see where he is coming from and that he says what he means. Talking to him, you can quickly tell that winning his part of his D and A – wasn’t it ever thus? – and that he would never go into any game believing anything other than it was his job to go flat out for a win.

Mike Ford has a similar mentality so with that view permeating both dressing room and boardroom  I think we can be assured that the club will attach just as much credence and importance to the draws in both cup competitions, while maintaining that ultimate success this year would be promotion to the second tier, something most pundits, and the bookies, believe to be well within realistic reach.

As an example of this, my good mate Peter Wilson, retired rugby league man on the Daily Star, now living on his native Walney Island, on the seaboard side of Barrow’s famous shipyards, watched Oldham win 22-10 at Craven Park and declared afterwards that Long’s men will defo take League One by storm this year and, at the very least, will hold their own in the Championship next year.

The flip side to that, of course, is to look at the experience of Keighley Cougars, who were unbeaten in League One in 2022, yet were relegated from tier 2 a year later – such is the size of the step-up from tier 3 to tier-2.

The difference is enormous in all aspects – composure, skill, intensity, ability,  physique – but somehow you can’t see THIS Oldham making a pig’s ear of it. I hope the weight of expectation, which Haydn Walker so rightly says needs to be managed, does not get to them.

In that respect senior men at the club on the playing side, like Long, Ford, Turner, Wardle, Kopczak, Taylor, and many others, have lived with pressure all their sporting  lives. They’ve coped with it  admirably – and they can cope with it again!

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