Roughyeds fired up for Cougars test

Date published: 24 June 2022

Having beaten Midlands Hurricanes 66-0 and having lost only 16-8 to high-flying Swinton Lions in their last two games, Oldham RLFC go to Betfred League One leaders Keighley Cougars on Sunday (3pm) with hope in their hearts and fire in their bellies.

Cougars won 32-6 at the Vestacare Stadium on the opening day of the season way back in March to kick-start a full ten-game half season from which they have emerged with a 100 per cent record.

To win at Cougar Park on Sunday, Stu Littler’s men will have to become the first team this season to lower Keighley’s colours but, while accepting that’s a tall order and while showing Keighley a healthy respect, they travel into Yorkshire without fear and with a genuine belief that they can avenge their home defeat by Keighley nearly three months ago.

Roughyeds will miss suspended duo Luke Nelmes in the front-row and on-loan Robbie Butterworth, from Wakefield Trinity, at left-side half-back, but Littler dismisses that as a pointer to a home win - one of three out of six clashes going back to April, 2018.

“One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity,” said head coach Littler, who added that training on Tuesday went well and that Nelmes and Butterworth would be replaced by players who show up well in training this week.

Keighley had spent a lot of money, he said, to get to where they are and they were to be applauded for taking the club forward.

Oldham, however, were delighted to welcome back several players from international camps this week, among them Owen Restall (Wales), Jordan Andrade (Jamaica) and on-loan Dec O’Donnell (Ireland), and international recognition like that augured well for what Roughyeds could achieve in the second half of the season.

The number of blank weekends hasn’t helped up to now because a stop-go approach made it difficult to maintain momentum and consistency, but after the big derby clash with Rochdale Hornets at the Vestacare Stadium on July 10 there is a continuous, week-after-week programme of matches, through to the play-offs, and this would suit Oldham much better and would hopefully enable them to finish their league programme in the top six.

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