4th October 2019, 14:09 | league_1
The Betfred League 1 season reaches its climax this weekend with a place in the Championship up for grabs for both Oldham RLFC and Newcastle Thunder when the sides collide on Sunday afternoon, live on Our League.
Oldham finished second behind League 1 champions Whitehaven and booked their place in the League 1 Play-Off final a fortnight ago with a 22-12 victory over Doncaster. Similarly, Thunder confirmed their Play-Off final berth with a 34-4 win over the Dons last week.
Scott Naylor’s Oldham side won each of their last six outings in the regular season, including a 28-20 victory over Newcastle at the Vestacare Stadium in August. However, Naylor doesn’t feel this matters for anything given the magnitude of this weekend’s fixture.
Naylor said: “Past form, though, will count for nothing. It’s a final, it’s going to be tough, and it will hinge on which side plays best on the day.
“It’s a 50-50 game in my opinion, very tough and with little between us.
“We seem to be comfortable at home, which is good, and we play a certain way against Newcastle, which seems to work for us.
“There’s a general confidence and belief among the lads in the way I want them to play and then sticking to it. We all agreed it’s the best way for us to play. It’s a joint thing involving us all.
“I think Newcastle have better individual players in people like QLT, Lewis Young, Misi [Taulapapa] and Keal Carlile, who can control a game from dummy half if he’s allowed to.”
While Naylor points to individual stars in the Newcastle side, the Thunder have had to do it tough in the Play-Offs following a disappointing loss to Doncaster in Week One. Simon Finnigan’s men have fought back however with a dominant victory over Workington Town before making amends against the Dons last weekend.
Despite coming this far, Newcastle Managing Director Mick Hogan is only focusing on Sunday’s huge fixture which could see the Thunder grace the Championship – under their new moniker – for the first time.
Hogan said: “Last week’s win will mean absolutely nothing in terms of what happens at Oldham.
“It will come down to preparation and to which side turns up on the day. The side that wins will be the one that gets its defence right, does the little things right, takes its chances and doesn’t give away penalties.”
Oldham are looking to return to the Championship for the first time since 2017 while Newcastle are aiming to continue their progress both on and off the field.
Watch this game live on Our League from 3pm on Sunday. If you aren’t already a member, sign-up here!