Preview: Hemel Stags eyeing a shock against in-form Oldham

Hemel Stags in action earlier this season. Picture (c) Kevin Read
Hemel Stags in action earlier this season. Picture (c) Kevin Read

Hemel Stags are looking to cause an upset and return to winning ways when they host high-flying Oldham at Pennine Way on Sunday.

The Stags were beaten by Barrow Raiders in their last outing, but coach Troy Perkins felt his side gave a good account of themselves

It’s a tough test but in the last four games we’ve been pretty decent so we’ll be looking to build on that.

Hemel Stags coach Troy Perkins

“There wasn’t much between the teams for probably 60 minutes,” he said. “They scored just on half-time to go in front and in the second half we battled hard against a big pack.

“Defensively it takes its toll in the end and in the last 20 minutes we were only 10 points behind.

“I was really pleased with our performance. We probably conceded a couple more tries than I would have liked but overall to go to Barrow and have a good go at them was pleasing.

“We haven’t played Oldham this season, they’re a tough team. We played them twice last year, we won one and drew one but they’re the team to beat.

“They’ve been a consistent team for the last couple of seasons and I don’t think they’re changed their personnel too much, so they know each other’s game inside out.

“Their strength is their big pack, who get them on a good roll. Our forwards have got to match them up the middle to give our backs a chance to score some points.

“It’s a tough test but in the last four games we’ve been pretty decent so we’ll be looking to build on that.”

Second row Alex Ingarfield is doubtful with a thigh strain.

Scott Naylor’s Oldham side went four points clear at the top of the table with an impressive 38-8 win over Keighley Cougars.

“We played really well on Sunday,” he said. “We didn’t play well at all when we played Keighley away so it was like the lads had a point to prove.

“It meant a lot to them to win on Sunday. We all knew how big the game was and there was that little bit of added spice to it. Keighley are the only team, apart from Hemel, that we hadn’t beaten this year.

“Hemel is now our biggest game of the season, that’s how we’ve got to look at it. We’ve put ourselves in a position to finish in the top two hopefully, that was the main aim before the season started because of the way the play-off system is this year.

“We’re kind of on a bit of a countdown now because we haven’t got that many games left. We’ve got some extremely tough games and it starts with Hemel away on Sunday.

“We work hard and we’ve played well and we’ve put ourselves in a strong position. It would be a shame now to make uncharacteristic mistakes and not finish the season the way we’ve been playing for the last two or three months.”

Wings Adam Clay and Jack Holmes are doubtful with broken ribs and an injured foot, respectively.