Thursday, 9 March 2017

Sunday's Coming: Oldham

Whilst the Law Cup is a pleasant pre-season distraction, this Sunday sees the return of  global sports most hotly contested local derby - The A627M El Clasico™.

With both teams now in the Championship, this game - potentially the first of four this season - brings with it a sense of import for both sides. For Hornets, it’s a chance to build some momentum after last week’s head-turning win at Featherstone (“He’s missed it… oh…). For Oldham it’s the opportunity to kick-start their stuttering season.

Oldham sit ninth in the table with just one win from four games - with last week’s contest v Dewsbury falling foul of the weather just an hour before kick-off.

Having started 2017 with a 26-10 win over Sheffield, Oldham lost narrowly at Featherstone (8-6) and v London Broncos (18-20), before ending up on the wrong end of a 48-nil blowout at Hull KR (Rovers led 30-nil at the break!).

Having had last weekend off, Scott Naylor has Adam Neal, Danny Grimshaw, George Tyson and Richard Lepori in the frame for a return to his side. Good news for his as - thus far -  he’s had little by way of dual reg. support due to Huddersfield’s ongoing injury crisis.

Hornets fans at the Law Cup may recall Tyson’s outrageous brain-fart after the final hooter, as he rained punches onto Jake Eccleston. The incident led to a four match ban, on which Chris Hamilton said: "George knows now that he will have to learn - and learn quickly”. Well he’s had a month to think about it…

Naylor will be without prop Phil Joy (dislocated shoulder) and Craig Briscoe (knee injury).

In case you’ve been on Mars or in a coma for the last week, Hornets come into this game on the back of a frankly stunning 9-10 win at Featherstone. Hewn on the back of some super-human defence, it was a result that made the championship sit up and take notice.

Having rested some players, Alan Kilshaw and his coaching team now have some major headaches about who to select for Sunday’s game. But it’s a high-class problem to have.

Indeed, in the media and online, suddenly people are talking about Rochdale Hornets as this season’s shock-package in the Championship. And while it’s nice to get some much deserved attention, it’ll be even nicer if we can roll over Oldham on Sunday. This one promises to be a classic El Clasico. Get there early and warm-up your vocal chords - it’ll be a belter.