IF Roughyeds continue to play with the pride and passion they’ve displayed in their three Championship games so far, fans are going to enjoy a fabulous 2017 season.
Sadly, and worryingly, only 558 supporters were at Bower Fold to see Scott Naylor’s men come up with boundless energy, pan loads of passion and a deep-seated iron will before going down to a heart-breaking 20-18 defeat by London Broncos.
David Hewitt’s late penalty shot struck a post to deny Roughyeds a point they undoubtedly deserved — just seven days after Scott Leatherbarrow was narrowly wide with a similar kick in an 8-6 defeat at Featherstone.
We’ve got two league points in the bag; we could easily have had four; and maybe even six.
With Featherstone we’ve got the joint best defensive record in the division after three games and of the five clubs on two points we are above Halifax, Swinton Lions, Sheffield Eagles and Batley Bulldogs in sixth place.
These boys who proudly wear the Oldham jersey and club badge deserve much better support from a town that is steeped in the history of the 13-a-side code.
The 550-odd fans who roared on their favourites every inch of the way, creating a fantastic Bower Fold atmosphere, never stopped chanting “Oldham, Oldham” or “C’mon Oldham, C’mon Oldham” to add to the tempo of an exhilarating match.
Roughyeds led 14-12 at the break with two tries by dual-reg centre Sam Wood and three goals by Scott Leatherbarrow.
Broncos replied with tries by Jarrod Sammut and Andy Ackers, both converted by the former.
Roughyeds suffered a cruel blow in the first minute of the second half when key-man Leatherbarrow went down after what appeared to be a clash of heads.
He was treated for several minutes before going of for attention to a head wound. He never returned — a loss that was to have a profound effect on what happened later.
Gareth Owen came off the bench to partner David Hewitt at half-back and as the Oldham forwards continued to lay siege on the Broncos line, Hewitt landed a couple of penalty goals to take us into an 18-12 lead.
We were well worthy of that lead. Another try at that stage would have won it, but we couldn’t get over and Broncos proved their worth with some razzle-dazzle from Sammut who broke up the middle to create a try in the next play for second-row man Daniel Harrison .
Sammut couldn’t convert so we still led 18-16, although there were some signs that a massive defensive effort was starting to take its toll.
Sure enough, Roughyeds were still attacking strongly when a chip ahead was gathered by Rhys Williams, who charged through Jack Spencer and rounded Scott Turner up the touchline to put his side two points to the good.
There was that chance for Hewitt to equalise but it wasn’t to be.
OLDHAM: Turner; Clay, Wood, Grimshaw, Gill; Leatherbarrow, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Neal, Spencer, Langtree, Ward. Subs: Hughes, Gee, Burke, Dickinson.
LONDON BRONCOS: Kear; Dixon, Purtell, Hellewell, Williams; Sammut, Barthau; Offerdahl, Ackers, Ioane, Harrison, Pitts, Davies. Subs: Garside, Gee, Evans, Roqica.
Refereee: Ben Thaler (Castleford);