PERHAPS it was one ‘toughie’ too far for Oldham, who beat Sheffield Eagles convincingly and then held both Featherstone Rovers away and London Broncos at home to two-point winning margins before finally succumbing 48-0 to a powerful Hull KR outfit at KCOM Craven Park.
A Super League club in all but current status, Rovers put 50-plus points past Bradford Bulls in their opening home league game and in this their second home test – in front of 5,000 season-ticket holders and another 2,000-plus casuals — they were clearly out to avenge their shock defeat by Roughyeds in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup last season.
Scott Naylor’s men needed to be at their strongest and at their best to keep them at bay, as they had held Featherstone and London at arm’s length, but thy had no dual-reg support from Huddersfield Giants for the first time this season and that, coupled with the absence of injured prop Phil Joy, meant they were stretched to the limit, especially in the forwards.
It was a huge ask for Liam Thompson to take up a starting role in the second-row in his first outing since the friendly at Swinton Lions on January 8.
Both he and Ben Davies did well in the circumstances, but Davies was in a similar situation to ‘Thompy’,coming off the bench and putting in long minutes in his first game since Barrow away on January 15.
Roughyeds weren’t the first and they won’t be the last team to come away from east Hull this season on the wrong end of a hiding.
A fierce, swirling and unpredictable wind made handling difficult, but it was the same for both sides and Rovers adapted far better to the conditions to absolutely monopolise possession and position in the first half.
They had clearly set out their stall to get the game wrapped up and watertight as quickly as possible and after 10 minutes they were 18-0 up. Roughyeds rarely threatened in the first half and their defence was weak, both up the middle and wider out, especially on the right side.
It was 30-0 at half-time but Roughyeds at least made more of a game of it in the second half when they defended much better than they did in the first 40 and went close to scoring themselves a couple of times, but without success.
The challenge for Scott and his troops now is to put this game behind them, to reflect on what needs putting right and to make sure they go into the game against Dewsbury Rams at Bower Fold next Sunday (3pm) with the same vigour and verve that made Roughyeds fans proud to be followers of Scott’s boys in the first three games of the Championship season.
For the record, Minns (2), Lunt, Donaldson, Scruton, Abdull, Ellis and Moss scored tries for Rovers with Ellis kicking eight from eight.
Hull KR: Quinlan; Shaw, Hoffernan, Minns, Moss; Abdull, Ellis; Scruton, Lunt, Clark, Blair, Greenwood, Donaldson. Subs: Clarkson, Mulhern, Kavanagh, Cockayne.
Oldham: Turner, Clay, Ogodo, Grimshaw, Gill; Leatherbarrow, Hewitt; Neal, Owen, Burke, Thompson, Langtree, Spencer. Subs: Ward, Hughes, Gee, Davies.
Ref: G Hewer (Whitehaven); Att: 7,268.