Suspended trio to miss promotion semi-final

SCOTT Naylor has confirmed that Ben Davies, Luke Nelmes and Luke Hooley will each serve one-match RFL bans when Oldham go head to head with Bradford Bulls at Odsal on Sunday (3pm) in the Betfred League 1 play-off.

Forwards Davies (dissent) and Nelmes (punching) were sent off in last week’s league game against the Bulls at the Vestacare Stadium, while full-back Hooley was sin-binned for tripping.

All three were given a one-match penalty notice and will be forced to miss the Roughyeds’ biggest game of the season so far.

Naylor, however, is more concerned about focusing on what their replacements will have to do rather than on the loss of the suspended trio.

“Other players will be given an opportunity to play in a semi-final and that’s huge motivation in itself,” said the Roughyeds boss.

“It’s up to whoever comes in to take those opportunities.

“It’s not like a final. It’s not necessarily the last game of the season.  We could, in theory, have two more massive games and places would then be up for grabs, so opportunities are there to be taken.”

Naylor was referring to the play-off final and also to the clash of beaten finalists and the side finishing bottom of the Betfred Championship Shield with the potential for a third League 1 team to go up.

Looking back to the 46-18 win at London Skolars, he said: “To score 46 points in rain and drizzle, with a slippy ball, amounted to a very professional performance.

“Skolars have some real pace out wide and they can always be a threat, especially at home. In opposition, you have to be very aware defensively.

“Any coach after any performance will always find room for improvement, but on this occasion it was all about the result rather than the performance.

“We had to win to give ourselves a chance of making the play-offs and I thought the boys handled that situation very well indeed.”

He said some players were suffering from bumps and bruises after the game but nobody was knocked-about so much as to be considered doubtful for the Bradford game.

“We’ll have to make changes because of the suspensions but that’s the whole point of having a squad,” he said.

“York City Knights were fully deserving League 1 winners and I’m not saying that just because we needed them to beat Whitehaven for our own purposes and benefit.

“James Ford, their coach, deserves enormous credit, especially when you consider that, according to the bookies at the start of the season, he wasn’t in the first two. So all credit to him, he deserves it.”

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