Oldham RLFC and Swinton Lions go head to head at Bower Fold this weekend, with both clubs currently outside of the Kingstone Press Championship drop zone. Oldham picked up a vital victory last Friday but the same couldn’t be said for Swinton, who were taught a clinical lesson by Halifax.

Last Time Out

Oldham got the better of Sheffield Eagles at SHU Sports Park to move out of the Championship relegation zone. Scott Naylor’s side won 24-16 in a tough encounter which could have gone either way. The visitors were 14-12 up at the break after tries from Kieran Gill and Kenny Hughes as well as a penalty goal courtesy of Lewis Palfrey. Cory Aston and Quentin Laulu-Togagae were the try-scorers for the Eagles during the first half. Liam Thompson drew first blood in the second half as the part-timers went two scores in front before Stan Robin crossed the whitewash on his Eagles debut. The Roughyeds’ defence stayed firm in the final quarter and they capitalised down the other end through Lewis Foster, who sealed the victory with a four pointer on 77 minutes.

Swinton Lions found themselves on the receiving end of a 62-12 scoreline against Halifax at Heywood Road. The visitors were 28-6 up at the break and things only got better for them after the restart. Ed Barber and Ben Johnston registered braces for Fax while winger Will Sharp also got in on the act. Rhodri Lloyd notched Swinton’s only try of the first period. Scott Murrell was first over the whitewash for Halifax in the second half prior to Barber completing his hat-trick. Gabriel Fell did respond for Swinton with his side’s second score of proceedings before Fax turned on the style. Despite having Jacob Fairbank sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul, Richard Marshall’s side scored two tries in the forward’s absence and two more when he returned. Gareth Moore, Mitch Cahalane, Gavin Bennion and Luke Ambler rounded off a satisfying afternoon for the West Yorkshire club with a try each.

Key Battle

Both sides have good players to choose from in the halves, and their creative play will excite the crowd at Bower Fold this weekend. Oldham’s combination of Lewis Palfrey and Gareth Owen provides a good mix for the team as Palfrey is a very capable kicker while Owen has the ability to cut open a defence in a split second. Owen is also a very good dummy-half and he may alternate with Lewis Foster and Kenny Hughes during the tie. Swinton’s Chris Atkin and Matty Beharrell will be looking to help their side get back to winning ways after a disappointing defeat against Halifax. If the game is close, the Lions can usually count on the halves to see the team home. Atkin and Beharrell have kicked important drop-goals for Swinton in the past and they will relish another opportunity to do so.

Prediction

Oldham and Swinton have changed people’s perceptions of newly promoted teams in the Championship. The Roughyeds and Lions have performed valiantly so far and they have a very good chance of surviving in the second tier for another year at least. This match could go either way but after their big loss last weekend, it’s fair to expect Swinton to come back with a vengeance – Swinton by 8