TONY Smith, Warrington’s coach, was so impressed with Oldham’s first-half performance in the 70-10 sixth-round Ladbrokes Challenge Cup defeat by the Super League leaders that he went into the Roughyeds’ dressing room after the game to shake a few hands.
Said Smith: “Oldham seriously challenged us in the first half. It took us a while to click into gear and that was down to them bullying us around.
“I was pleased they scored a second try at the end because it was a harsh scoreline for the effort they put in.
“I hope they don’t allow this setback to affect what they are doing in the Championship. They are a good team in that division and the strong team I picked was in respect to them.”
Responded Oldham boss Scott Naylor: “Tony came in and said some of our structures were as good as he has seen at some Super League clubs.
“He was very complimentary about the way we played in the first half and said we must make sure that we bounce back when we return to Championship rugby.
“Just for him to come into our changing room was amazing. It shows what sort of a bloke he is. When he had gone you could see on some of the lads’ faces that they were in awe.
“We were fantastic for half an hour, but we then fell off a cliff and once that happened it became an impossible talk. The second half became very difficult for us. Not that the score mattered all that much. It didn’t.
“What mattered was that we did our very best; that we played with pride; that we gave our fans something to cheer about; and that we came through with no more injuries. For long periods I thought we got that right.
“It perked us up when we saw the Warrington team. That was total respect. The whole game is built on respect. Warrington couldn’t have shown us more, which also says a lot about them.”
Also commenting om Smith’s compliments, Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton said: “It shows the class of the Warrington club and the people running it. We’ve always had a good relationship with them.
“The most important thing he said was that we had to quickly pick ourselves up and to continue to do well in the Championship.
“I’m certain we’ll stay up because I’ve every confidence in the coaching staff and in the players.”