SCOTT Naylor’s heroes gave Featherstone Rovers the fright of their lives before going down 8-6 in wet, windy, wintry weather at The Big Fellas Stadium.
Roughyeds did definitely NOT deserve to lose and some would argue they played the horrendous conditions better than Rovers and were, therefore, the better side.
There was absolutely no doubt about that in the first half when Naylor’s men played up the slope and into the wind and led 6-4 at the interval.
With slope and wind to come they must have seriously fancied their chances at half-time, but the home side adjusted their style, looked all the better for it, and perhaps just shaded the second 40 to snatch both league points on a day when a draw would have been a fair result and a true reflection of the game.
It might well have ended like that but, in the atrocious conditions (wet pitch, swirling wind, sub-zero temperatures), Scott Leatherbarrow saw his penalty attempt in the 73rd minute swirl agonisingly wide after Jack Spencer had been upended in the tackle.
Oldham took the lead in the eighth minute when Leatherbarrow’s angled grubber into the in-goal was touched down by Scott Turner, who had a superb game at full-back. Leatherbarrow goaled.
From then on it was nip and tuck, but Oldham found it hard to handle Rovers centre Chris Ulugia, who was to score wide out after 26 minutes and then do an encore five minutes into the second half.
Ulugia and his left-side second-rower John Davies caused Roughyeds no end of trouble, and how one of those didn’t get the Rovers’ man-of-the-match award is a puzzle to say the least.
The visitors had Rovers on the rack several times in the second half, but the home side defended well to snatch a game which could have gone either way and would possibly have ended in Oldham’s favour had it not been for an 11-5 penalty count against them.
Leatherbarrow was Oldham’s midfield kingpin, better in the first half than in the second, and Turner never put a foot wrong in a classical full-back display.
But on a day like this it was mainly down to the hard graft and hard yards of the forwards and in that regard none did better than Phil Joy and Michael Ward.
Rovers: tries, Ulugia (2)
Oldham: goal, Leatherbarrow; try, Turner.
Rovers: Hardman; Briscoe, Hardcastle, Ulugia, Handley; Thackeray, Wildie; Bostock, Carlile, Cooper, Davies, Walton, Tagg. Subs: Briggs, Walters, Ormondroyd, Griffin.
Oldham: Turner; Clay, Egodu, Grimshaw, Gill; Leatherbarrow, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Neal, Wood, Langtree, Spencer. Subs: Ward, Mason, Burke, Hughes.
RefL T Grant; Att: 1,783.