Date: Saturday 16th May
Venue: Spotland Stadium
Rochdale Hornets made it back-to-back wins last week when they battled hard for a deserved victory over local rivals Swinton Lions, running out 28-16 winners.
It was a tough physical battle in which the Hornets defended their line on a number of occasions in the second period without buckling under the pressure, to leave coach Ian Talbot pleased with his side’s effort.
“I thought defensively we were very good,” commented the Hornets chief. “They had a lot of ball on our line and we held them out, it was fantastic defence from us.”
He and his team know the importance of picking up another win against Oxford on Saturday and he will be ensuring that the players are prepared and don’t underestimate their opponents.
“Oxford are another unknown quantity. They’re getting quite a few players from Bradford at the minute to compliment what they’ve already got. We’ll just prepare ourselves in the right frame of mind. The Swinton win means nothing if we don’t back it up this week.”
Oxford go into this game off the back of a good 38-24 win over London Skolars and they will be looking to cause an upset and improve on their position of ninth in the table.
Coach Tim Rumford was pleased with his side’s performance, especially in the first period, and was happy that they picked up some early points in the league campaign.
“I was happy with the win at the weekend, it was good to get the two points,” said Rumford. “These couple of wins early in the season are really important to us.
“The performance, particularly in the first half, was really good and I thought we should have been further in front at half-time. In the second half we were probably guilty of over-playing. Being 28-0 up at half-time, at times it was difficult to stay motivated – which we’ll address this week.”
He is under no illusions about how tough Saturday will be for his Oxford side and commented on the Hornets link with St Helens, as Rumford will be without Bradford Bulls loose forward Matty Blythe who is suspended.
“We face a very good team this weekend, Rochdale have obviously got a good link up with St Helens so they could put out a few very experienced players.
“Our lesser experienced boys need to match them. It’s great for their development but we need to make sure we’re competitive with the likes to Rochdale to see how far we’ve come – that’s the challenge for us this week.”
Prediction: Hornets are strong on their own patch and are edging towards their best, the hosts to win this one by 18.