ONE word summed up Scott Naylor’s emotion when the final siren confirmed Oldham’s first win in eight Championship outings — relief.
That all but two of those defeats were by the top five teams in the division, three of them full-time professional clubs, or that they coincided with a Roughyeds injury crisis and a run of four away games out of five, didn’t make them any easier to shoulder for club, coaches, players or fans.
Naylor and his squad targeted Whitehaven at Bower Fold as the game to turn things round, but they went 12-0 down inside the first ten minutes before shrugging off the pressure to score 26 unanswered points in a 26-18 triumph.
Said head coach Naylor: “It’s been a while coming, so there was a lot of relief when we won.
“We were nervous at the start, but once we settled into the game I never thought we looked like losing.
“We played with maturity and confidence, especially in the first half, and after going 12 points down so early it was nice to go in at half-time eight points up.
“Deteriorating conditions didn’t suit either side in the second half, but we showed a lot of courage in defence.
“The boys gave 100 per cent to achieve the win they fully deserved and I was proud of them.
“We started badly but to bounce back as we did, in a game in which we were under enormous pressure, showed a fighting spirit and a lot of mental strength.
“Hopefully, we can build on this now and take a lot of encouragement from it, starting at Sheffield Eagles on Friday night.
“We were always going to be under a lot of pressure to beat Whitehaven, but we were really under the cosh when Sheffield beat Featherstone on Friday night, given that they are only one place above us in the table.”