Date: Friday 3rd April
Venue: Spotland Stadium, Rochdale
It’s the ‘El Classico’ of Rugby League as these two fierce rivals lock horns for the first time since the Hornets victory over Oldham in the 2013 Championship One Play Off Final.
Last Time Out
Rochdale were taken apart at the hands of the Swinton Lions in the Fourth Round of the Challenge Cup.
Grant Beecham and Chris Atkin both grabbed a brace with Chris Rothwell and Ritchie Hawkyard scoring a try each to secure a Fifth Round tie away at Championship side Batley Bulldogs. The Hornets consolation tries came through Jordan Case and James Tilley.
Oldham, whose League One Cup semi against North Wales last weekend was postponed, were knocked out of the Challenge Cup away from home at the hands of Championship side Sheffield Eagles.
Despite a try from Mick Learmonth to get within a score of the Eagles, further tries late in the game by Adam Clay and two by Josh Crowley proved to be nothing other than consolations as they were blown away by the Eagles side in Doncaster.
Ian Talbot has Player of the Year Tony Suffolk and Mike Ratu available following suspension for striking against Kells in the Challenge Cup.
Lewis Charnock is included after arriving on dual registration from St Helens whilst Irish international trio Brad Hargreaves, Matty Hadden and Danny Bridge will also feature against Oldham.
The Roughyeds look set to hand debuts to new recruit from Sheffield Tom Ashton and Jon Ford who is on loan from the Salford Red Devils for a third time in his career.
Michael Ward will also return having missed the Challenge Cup tie at Sheffield following a concussion he sustained in the win up at Barrow in the iPro Sport Cup the previous week.
Oldham have yet to announce whether they will have any Huddersfield Giants players available to them on dual registration.
The backline will be an intriguing battle to take place through this game at Spotland. Hornets boast former Oldham top tryscorer Dale Bloomfield plus the experienced centres pair of Gareth Langley and Lee Paterson and exciting young Irish winger Brad Hargreaves. Oldham have Salford centre Jon Ford to add to Adam Clay, Jarrod Ward and Tom Dempsey are young and very exciting to watch.
What The Coaches Say
Rochdale Hornets Coach Ian Talbot: “Pre-season has been a bit stop-start. We missed out on two of the more competitive games we should have had against Hunslet and Saints, which left us two games behind where we would have liked to have been going into the season.
“Maybe we were a little bit undercooked going into the North Wales and Swinton games but we should have no excuses going forward.
“I’m happy with what I’ve got and I’m sure throughout the season we’ll be calling on dual registration players from St Helens. We’ve tried to resist that up to now but it will become vitally important for us as we progress
“It’s a great way for us to start the season with all the local rivalries between ourselves and Oldham. I’m sure there’s some open wounds for them from the last time we played them in the (2013) Grand Final and they will want to make amends for that. The rivalry is intense.”
Oldham Roughyeds Coach Scott Naylor: “We’ve got no injuries and we will be fresh going into the game against Rochdale, as will they, so it should make for a good game.
”It’s been so far so good for us. In the games we’ve played we’ve worked on different things. The results weren’t that important, we probably put in a poor 25 minutes against Sheffield but that’s all really, the rest has been positive. We’ve got to keep improving and Friday is another huge test for us to see where we’re at against another team that has come down.
“There is also that little matter of the Rochdale and Oldham thing being re-kindled having not played them last year, so I’m sure that it won’t disappoint.”
The Roughyeds have recruited well this off season and will have limited numbers from Huddersfield due to the Giants compact Easter schedule whilst the Hornets will be looking to bounce back from defeat at the hands of Swinton last time out. – Oldham by 4