Thursday, 7 March 2013

Sunday's Coming: Oldham

Hornets and Oldham are like a couple locked in a beautiful, dysfunctional relationship. They might drive each other crazy, but they just can't leave it alone. And when the sparks fly, it feels… well… a little bit exciting.

Both halves of this highly charged equation come into Sunday's game at Whitebank on the back of contrasting early-season fortunes. While Hornets flew out of the traps with a clinical dismantling of a hapless Gateshead, OIdham were brutally flogged in Wales by Bassey-esque 'big-spenders' Crusaders by 48 to 12.

A close contest for half an hour, Oldham lost their way a bit and paid the price - shipping an incredible 30 points in the 11 minutes either side of half-time. Reports suggest that the team-spirit that pulled them through the Law Cup against a lop-sided Hornets struggling to accommodate late additions in key positions went AWOL. Having described the defeat as “totally unacceptable”, Scott Naylor was left scratching his head.

"… we totally disregarded everything we had been working on…" he said in the Chron. “… we were soft in defence and I’m really disappointed about that. I can accept the opposition scoring a great team try, but when they score because they merely run over or through a defender and not much effort is shown in the tackle that is hard to take."

Conversely, Crusaders' Clive Griffiths revealed how he'd locked Oldham down - a big pointer for Sunday: "… we knew Palfrey and Dallimore would be dangerous with their kicking games… we set out to put pressure on them and shut them down, and I think we succeeded."

The Oldham side v Crusaders was: Niall Evalds, Mo Agoro, Danny Samuel, Jon Ford, Richard Lepori, Lewis Palfrey, Jamie Dallimore, Jason Boults, Sam Gee, Liam Gilchrist, Josh Crowley, Danny Langtree, Mark Hobson. SUBS: Adam Files, Will Hope, Michael Ward, Jordan Walne - similar to the Law Cup line-up, with the addition of Evalds, Ford, Hope and Waine on Dual Reg. deals from crisis hit Salford who sacked Phil Vievers last Sunday.

Finally, wrap-up warm on Sunday. Met Office forecast for Oldham at 3pm reads: temperature 1° (from a high of 3°), wind gusts of up to 35mph, wind chill feels like:  -7°, 20% chance of rain. If you're thinking of investing £10 in one of the new Hornets woolly bobble hats, now's the time!

RFL Preview
Oldham v Rochdale Hornets (3.00pm)

Oldham coach Scott Naylor will pick from full strength for Sunday’s mouthwatering Northern Rail Cup derby with Rochdale Hornets. Naylor’s squad will be trying to recover from their 48-12 defeat against North Wales Crusaders last week, but Naylor insisted: “The score didn’t reflect the game. It made it look a lot worse than it was. We need to work on certain things and make sure we don’t switch off for 10 or 15 minute periods this week.”

Hornets coach Ian Talbot is also reporting a clean bill of health after last week’s 58-16 win over Gateshead Thunder. Talbot said: “Oldham will have improved since we played them a few weeks ago. I expect them to be a much tougher proposition, especially at their home ground. It’s going to be as much about how we deal with the conditions as how we deal with the opposition.” 

Some searing insights from the RFL's PR machine there...