ON the very day when a win would have secured Championship survival, Oldham threw away an 18-8 lead to leave Scott Naylor and his staff, club officials and supporters gnashing their teeth in anguish.
Roughyeds could also have breathed easily if relegation rivals Workington and Whitehaven had both lost, but ‘Haven, without a coach, turned the form book upside down with a stunning and totally unexpected 56-12 win at Dewsbury Rams.
The Cumbrians live to fight again — at Bower Fold on Sunday no less — and Naylor was left to reflect on what went so terribly wrong in the last half hour at The Shay when Halifax scored 24 unanswered points to win 32-18.
He said: “We quickly need to learn how to manage a game. At 18-8 up early in the second half you don’t give penalties away, surrender territory, make it easy for them and let a side like Halifax do pretty much what they please.
“It didn’t help to once again find ourselves heavily penalised, 13-5, and as I said last week I don’t understand why we continue to lose the penalty count so heavily or why I don’t seem to be getting any answers when I ask the questions.
“Also, I was bitterly disappointed at the way we finished the game. For an hour we battled and made it difficult for them and then we built up that lead.
“But in minutes they were back on terms and they had then wrestled back the initiative and the momentum.
“A game lasts for 80 minutes but judging by what happened here some of our lads thought it was all over at 60.
“In the back-field we suffered from wrong decision-making and handling errors.
“And you can’t be on the wrong end of a penalty count with a ratio of nearly three to one against you. That isn’t the way to win a game of rugby.”
Halifax coach Richard Marshall, celebrating his second successive win after six defeats in a row, said: “Oldham are a tough team, but a couple of injuries (to Langtree and Thompson) didn’t help them.
“Our right side was particularly strong and caused them a lot of problems. To concede two quick tries so early in the second half was a similar story to what’s been happening to us recently, but we rallied and had enough in the tank to see us home.”