Preview: Stags set their sights on ending Oldham’s unbeaten home record

Stags will be looking for another big performance from talismanic Eddie M'baraga
Stags will be looking for another big performance from talismanic Eddie M'baraga

Hemel Stags continue their quest for a second successive Kingstone Press Championship One playoff place when they travel to Oldham RLFC on Sunday.

Oldham have remained in contention for promotion all season themselves, and currently occupy third spot in the league ladder.

They are six points adrift of leaders York City Knights with a game in hand, having garnered 42 points from their 17 matches to date.

A major contribution to the Roughyeds’ sustained promotion bid has been their outstanding home form, where they remain unbeaten.

In fact, only Stags have left the Whitebank stadium with anything but a defeat, following a 20-20 draw back in March.

The two sides also met in Hemel in early June, when a brace from James Hill, and further tries by Evan Simons, Jimmy Morgan, Cariern Clement-Pascall, Dan Ljazouli and Michael Brown secured a fabulous three points for the Stags in a 44-32 triumph.

Since that success Hemel have remained in play off contention, but injuries to key players and a rather unkind recent fixture list has left the Stags just outside the top five with three matches of the regular campaign remaining.

To that end, Hemel are certain to be without prop James Howitt who has a broken metacarpal; the popular Australian joining fellow countrymen and long term injury victims, Mitch Barbara and Ben Thorburn on the sidelines.

Stags coach Perkins is also without Stephen Bannister, who twisted his knee while scoring a try on debut last week, but Matthew Cook and Clement-Pascal are available for the trip north.

Perkins said: “I was very disappointed we didn’t get a bonus point last week, because we played well enough to get one.

“It’s more pressure on us this week, and we need to get something out of this game.

“Oldham’s a tough place to go and they play the slope well, but they haven’t beaten us this season, so we’ll go in with confidence that we know we can perform well against them.”

He added: “If we can pick up something from this game and win the next two, I think we’ll make the play-offs.

“If not, we’ll be relying on other results – and that’s something we don’t want to do.”

Oldham coach Scott Naylor, meanwhile, hopes to have a fully-fit squad available for Sunday’s clash – barring long-term absentee Adam Files.

Both David Cookson (elbow) and Kenny Hughes (ankle) are closing in on their return to action, boosting Naylor’s options ahead of a tricky test against the Stags.

Hemel’s 17-man squad for the trip to Oldham is:

1. James Cameron

2. James Hill

3. Michael Brown

4. Matt Cook

5. Aaron Small

6. Eddie M’Baraga

7. Jymel Coleman

8. Dan Ljizouli

9. Evan Simons

10. Dom Maloney

11. BJ Swindells

12. Ciaren Clement-Pascall

13. Alex Ingarfield

14. Ben Young

15. Ryan Chester

16. Joel Thomas

17. Jermaine Coleman