Rugby league: Bowling may feel Ovenden backlash

OVENDEN are confident of a significant improvement from the last time they crossed swords with West Bowling when the pair meet in the National Cup at Four Fields tomorrow (2.0).

The Bradford side were 26-4 winners at home in Division Two of the Conference on October 16 and Chris Parker was so disappointed with the lack of commitment he quit as Ovenden coach.

Steve Taylor, who stepped up to take over the reins, said: "That was the straw that broke the camel's back as far as Chris was concerned.

"We were let down by key players beforehand and although we probably still had enough firepower to win, we just did not perform."

Although Ovenden are still too near the foot of the table for comfort - West Bowling also only have six points - Taylor is confident his club are making strides in the right direction.

Proof appeared to come last week in the Challenge Cup when visitors Rochdale Mayfield, who are promotion contenders in Division One, were given an almighty scare before progressing 28-26.

Ovenden were 22-0 up at half time and Taylor believes that apart from dropping off a couple of tackles after the break, his players did everything in their power to stay in front against the slope.

"It was a good effort but we probably did lack a bit of fitness," he said.

Taylor believes Ovenden can look forward to a good second half to the season and that they will soon turn around narrow defeats such as last week and against Egremont and Hunslet Warriors.

"I feel better results will come sooner rather than later," he said.

Shaun Smith (ankle), Mick Holden (calf) and Matt Dawson (neck) all picked up injuries last week. Smith is out for tomorrow while Holden and Dawson were rated as 50-50 to play.

However, Taylor has proven first teamers waiting in the wings in the likes of Robert Shaw, Tom McAdam and Liam Walsh.

While the league remains the top priority, Taylor said a win or two in the National Cup would be good to bolster confidence.