AFTER a poor start, in which Roughyeds went 8-0 down in the first ten minutes, Scott’s boys got their act together to qualify for the fifth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup with a 40-12 win against a brave and plucky Haydock.
The champions of the North-West Men’s League, urged on by fantastic support who had travelled in a couple of double-deck buses and convoys of cars, gave a tremendous performance and were a credit to the community game.
At the end, the Oldham players waited on the Bower Fold pitch for the Haydock boys to go over and salute their supporters before lining up and applauding them up the tunnel at the end of the biggest game in the amateur club’s history.
Later, during post-match formalities, Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton presented the Yickers coach Chris Smith with an inscribed glass souvenir of the occasion and paid tribute to all at the Haydock club for their “absolutely outstanding” achievement in reaching this stage of the Ladbrokes competition.
The RFL’s Chief Operating Officer Ralph Rimmer and Nick Roberts were in attendance along with Joe Burton from Ladbrokes.
Chris said it had been an absolute pleasure to work pre-match with all at Haydock, and in particular with their club secretary Frank Bradshaw.
It was a big day, too, for the youngsters of Oldham St Anne’s and Haydock who, despite the poor weather and a very wet and heavy pitch, conducted their duties admirably in front of the BBC cameras, who were streaming the game on the BBC website.
Once the game was under way, Haydock sent their supporters into raptures with tries by Jordan Gibson and Dean Dollin in the first ten minutes.
Dollin couldn’t convert either, but to go 8-0 up so early was the start Haydock could only have dreamed about.
Eventually, Roughyeds’ clawed themselves back into the game and led 20-8 at half-time with tries by Richard Lepori, Michael Ward, George Tyson and Danny Grimshaw (in his 150th career game), plus two goals by Scott Leatherbarrow.
Further second-half tries by Lepori, Joe Burke, Kieran Gill and Adam Clay, with two more goals by Leatherbarrow, gave Roughyeds a 40-8 lead before Haydock grabbed their third try in the last minute.
When Steve Jones scored, off Gibson’s perfectly-timed pass, it was fitting reward for Haydock’s brave fight to the final hooter.
There were many eye-catching performances, not least Jordan Gibson’s clever half-back game for Haydock and, for Roughyeds, particularly impressive contributions by two-try Lepori, the creative Scott Leatherbarrow, Michael Ward and official man of the match George Tyson.
Of the eight tries, the best was arguably Kieran Gill’s in which he made an outside break, sold a dummy and then turned on the after-burners to break from half way and slide over in the corner — a classical centre’s finish.
Oldham: goals, Leatherbarrow 4/8; tries, Lepori (2), Ward, Tyson, Grimshaw, Burke, Gill, Clay.
Haydock: tries, Gibson, Dollin, Jones.
Oldham: Lepori, Clay, Grimshaw, Gill, Chisholm; Leatherbarrow, Hewitt; Neal, Owen Davies, Tyson, Langtree, Spencer. Subs: Ward, Burke,Hughes, Gee.
Haydock: Jones, James, Dollin, Travena, Lee; Gibson, Bacon; Anderton, M Sexton, Brown, Gee, Smith, R Sexton. Subs: Johnson, Cheetham, Braithwaite, Davies.
Referee: Nick Bennett; Att: 743 (highest of the season so far at Bower Fold).