SCOTT Naylor believes Oldham have been penalised unfairly by an RFL disciplinary procedure which has cost him the services of Michael Ward for two games while Workington Town’s Jarrod Sammut received only a caution for a dangerous throw on Adam Clay in the same match.
“I’m told everything is black or white and it has to be like that in pursuit of consistency,” said the disgruntled Oldham boss.
Following two incidents picked up on video by the sport’s Match Review Panel in a relegation battle which Workington edged 32-30, Oldham prop Ward submitted an early guilty plea for illegally using his elbow and received a statutory two-match ban. Winger Clay suffered a serious shoulder injury, which will rule him out for another two weeks.
Both tackles involved Town’s star half-back Sammut, who escaped with a caution for his foul tackle on Clay and was deemed to be the victim in a skirmish which followed his tackle on Ward.
The net result denies Roughyeds the services of Ward and Clay in another relegation “four pointer” with Workington at Bower Fold on Sunday, while the Cumbrians will look to Sydney-born Sammut to come up withe another match-winning performance.
Ward, penalised on the intervention of a touchjudge, admitted ‘intentional’ use of his elbow and was charged with a grade ‘C’ offence, which has recommended sanctions of two to three matches.
His early guilty plea meant his ban would be no more than two — Workington at home and Swinton Lions away in the first two of seven crucial Kingstone Press Championship Shield Super 8s fixtures which will determine whether Naylor’s men stay up or go down.
Oldham claim that Ward’s reaction was triggered by Sammut’s attempt to hold him down after the tackle, thus preventing a quick play-the-ball at a time when Roughyeds were two points down and attacking strongly.
Sammut on Clay directly followed the Town player’s rare clanger in failing to put a penalty into touch. Oldham’s winger came away with the ball and was heavily tackled by Sammut, who was immediately penalised.
In their assessment, recorded on the RFL website, the Match Review Panel referred to Sammut’s “dangerous throw” and concluded: “The player (Sammut) makes/applies a lifting motion, taking the player (Clay) into a potentially dangerous position. The player (Clay) lands on his side. However, the lifting technique was unnecessary and worthy of a caution.”
Clay played on after on-field repairs, but he clearly restricted and was later found to have suffered a grade-two tear of the shoulder muscle.
Reacting to the circumstances surrounding the loss of two key players at the most critical part of the year, Naylor said: “It’s a bit strong. We get to the Super 8s and lose one of our best forwards for two games for trying to get somebody off him after the tackle, which is part of the game.
“Adam Clay won’t play either because he was spear tackled , but that didn’t warrant a suspension.”
Implying that incidents should be considered singularly and on the evidence available, rather than categorised with grades and recommended sanctions, the Oldham boss added: “I’m told we have to stick by the rules because everything is black and white so that we get consistency. That’s what I’m told.
“As always, we have to fight on. We don’t seem to get much luck in things like this but we have to accept it, battle on and get through it.”
Led by Naylor and his two assistants, Lee Spencer and Pete Carey, Roughyeds are urging fans to turn up in numbers at Bower Fold on Sunday (3pm) to give their players maximum vocal backing in a game that will go a long way to determining whether Oldham avoid the drop.
They are three points better off than bottom two Workington and Whitehaven and a Roughyeds win on Sunday would make it difficult for the Cumbrian clubs to catch them.
If Workington were to win their fourth game in a row, though, Naylor’s men would be under enormous pressure to win the next game at Swinton, who lead 2-1 in their three derby clashes already this season.
* Ex-Oldham captain Robert Roberts, the club’s newly-appointed community coach, holds the second session of his school-holidays Summer Camp at Whitebank tomorrow (Thurs), from 10am to noon for children aged seven to 12 and from 1pm to 3pm for 13s to 16s. Admission is free.