The Roughyeds host the form team of the division at Bower Fold on Sunday as Batley come to town. Oldham were on the losing side in both of their matches over Easter while the Bulldogs had a successful few days, with two wins from as many games.

Last Time Out

In the battle of this year’s new sides in the Kingstone Press Championship, Oldham Roughyeds were defeated 28-18 by Swinton Lions at Heywood Road. Like in their previous match against Halifax, Oldham started off slow and they were duly punished by Swinton, who went into half-time with a 24-0 advantage. Rhodri Lloyd, Chris Atkin, Connor Dwyer and Corbyn Kilday all notched four pointers for the Lions and it got better for them after the interval. Dwyer picked up his second try of the contest and there looked to be no way back for the Roughyeds. Despite this, they did score three tries in a row to cut the deficit by 18 points. Danny Grimshaw, Adam Files and Jon Ford made their way over the whitewash for Oldham but it was too little, too late as Swinton celebrated their first win of the year.

Batley beat Whitehaven by the slenderest of margins at the Fox’s Biscuits Stadium. A 24-23 victory was as nail biting as it sounds, with Pat Walker kicking the decisive penalty goal five minutes from time. It was the visitors who scored the first try of the afternoon courtesy of Chris Taylor but Batley replied soon after with three tries on the spin. Scores from Dave Scott, Adam Gledhill and James Brown put the Bulldogs 16-6 up at the break. However, attacking down the slope in the second period, Whitehaven hit back with a vengeance as two tries in as many minutes from Taylor and Craig Calvert had levelled the match up. A Dion Aiye try minutes later sent the travelling Haven fans into raptures behind the sticks and Jouffret converted for a six point game. An acrobatic try by Alex Brown cut the lead to just two points before Walker slotted home a cool touchline conversion. The topsy-turvy tie continued with Grant Gore putting his side back in front with a one pointer before, after a penalty was called for a shoulder charge on a Batley player, Walker held his nerve to kick a penalty goal which proved to be the difference by the end.

Key Battle

Gareth Owen was a shining light for Oldham last year in League 1. His explosive play out of dummy-half rattled most sides and the former Salford man will be looking to make a similar impact in the second tier, where he has played before while on loan at Sheffield Eagles. Batley have two hookers who bring a lot of pace and agility to the team. Alistair Leak and James Davey are both blessed with speed and when the Bulldogs’ forward pack is firing on all cylinders, it gives the on-field hooker a lot of room to roam into around the ruck. 

Prediction

Oldham’s only win in the Kingstone Press Championship thus far came against Batley’s neighbours, Dewsbury Rams, at Bower Fold. It was an impressive display in a game that Oldham were tipped to lose. Whether or not they can provide the same sort of performance against the Bulldogs remains to be seen. For Batley, it’s all about keeping their feet on the ground after such a good start to the campaign. With John Kear as coach, they’ve got someone at the helm whose experience will be vital to a squad that hasn’t seen much success in the past few years. It’s hard to see past another win for the Bulldogs – Batley by 16