WITH a guaranteed eight more games at Bower Fold still to come, maybe nine, Oldham RL relished their return to the green, green grass of home in a rousing performance against the best team in the Championship.
Table-topping Hull KR won 32-24 on the Stalybridge venue’s beautifully manicured new pitch, but only after back-to-form Roughyeds had given them a huge scare after racing into an early 18-0 lead.
“From 1 to 17 we had a real dig — and that was the most pleasing aspect of all,” said assistant coach Peter Carey.
Though slipping to their fifth loss in a row, Roughyeds gave one of their typically exhilarating Bower Fold performances on their return to their adopted home after seven games on the road, stretching back nearly two months.
Added Carey: “Pleasingly, we didn’t give up even when things started going against us. It was a much better performance and one which our fans will have really enjoyed. I know that.”
It will also raise expectations and confidence ahead of the next two matches which are also at Bower Fold — against Halifax next Sunday (3pm) and Dewsbury Rams on the following Wednesday night, June 21 (8pm), which is the Roughyeds game in hand on most of the teams around them.
Of the seven games left in the regular season, five are at Bower Fold, to be followed by at least three more there in the Shield, perhaps four depending on results over the next few weeks.
Players such as Michael Ward, Sammy Gee and Liam Thompson were rotated yesterday in an attempt to spread the workload with the midweek match against the Rams coming up soon. It was originally postponed in March due to a waterlogged pitch.
“We needed to get Ben Davies back in action again and to have another look at Brad Hill, but apart from that we’re at the start of four games in 14 days so it’s all about making the best use of the full squad,” added Carey.
He said a few players picked up knocks against Hull KR, but as far as he could tell straight after a game there was nobody suffering significantly.
With the five bottom teams all losing, Roughyeds remain in ninth place with the outstanding Dewsbury game still to be played.