SIDDAL have already proved they can beat Conference champions Thatto Heath. Now they must demonstrate that they can do so on a big, flat pitch.
Two of the Premier Division’s biggest guns meet tomorrow over in St Helens (2.0) in a rematch from the last May’s Grand Final, which Heath won 30-18 at Widnes’s Halton Stadium.
Siddal had beaten their foes in the league and the play-offs at their Chevinedge fortress shortly before suffering Grand Final defeat for the second year running.
According to Siddal coach Lee Greenwood, the red rose side had concluded that his men were far less effective away from their tight, undulating, hill top pitch.
Greenwood said: “This is a chance to prove we can play against a good team on a nice, wide flat pitch.”
Siddal are likely to have a few absentees tomorrow but Greenwood said: “It will be a good test and a tough game but our squad is strong enough to get a win there.”
Greenwood believes Siddal’s Grand Final defeat was more down to his side’s mental attitude on the day than the pitch.
“After beating them very comfortably twice we probably went out with the wrong attitude,” he said.
“We thought it would be easy and they did a good job after roughing up a couple of our key players.”
Both sides have started the season well, backing up wins on the opening day of the league programme a fortnight ago with success in the Challenge Cup last weekend.
Siddal have beaten East Hull and then swept aside West Hull at Chevinedge, having earlier won at Leigh East in the National Cup.
Greenwood hasn’t been too impressed with the opposition so far and knows Thatto Heath will provide a much sterner challenge.
He is not helped by the absences of hooker Craig Sanderson and fellow forwards Luke Simeunovich and Luke Garnett. Simeon Hoyle faces an injury check while half-back Steve Illingworth is a major doubt with a neck problem.
Ex-professional winger Greenwood was on the bench last week and is prepared to play tomorrow, although he would prefer to be able to concentrate on his coaching role.
“The lads have not let me down so far and I will not let them down if needs must,” he said.
OVENDEN have high hopes of making it five points out of a possible six at the start of their Conference Division Two campaign when they host Heworth tomorrow (2.30).
Gareth Jones’s side won their opener at Crosfields but the player-coach was disappointed when his men were held 12-12 at home six days ago by Shaw Cross Sharks side.
“I think we let them off the hook after totally dominating the first half,” said Jones.
“Their tries came off last plays with a few of our players falling away and we need everyone to concentrate for the full 80 minutes.”
Jones, who has added Andrew Perry to his coaching team to help with tactics, believes his side can improve their sixth-tackle options but was pleased with his players’ intensity and fitness in defence at this early stage of the season.
Heworth lost 34-18 at home to Dewsbury Celtic a fortnight ago and have found in tough going in recent times.
Ovenden may make only one change with reigning young player of the season Luke O’Mara set to replace unavailable Matty Dawson on the wing.