OLDHAM chairman Chris Hamilton paid tribute to his side’s ’18th man’ after a young Roughyeds side turned the form book upside down to end a run of eight straight defeats with a 14-12 win against top-four Toulouse Olympique at Bower Fold.
The two precious league points lifted Scott Naylor’s men out of the Championship’s bottom two relegation places, which are now occupied by Bradford Bulls and Swinton Lions.
Tries by full-back Steve Nield, who once won a clubman-of-the-year award for his work behind the scenes during a long injury spell, and George Tyson, plus three goals by David Hewitt, did the trick.
A side that went into battle without TEN senior players, and including half a dozen youngsters, was willed over the line by fans with good lungs.
Said Hamilton: “Our supporters were absolutely fantastic in the vocal backing they gave the team.
“We had 18 men out there, no doubt about that. We always knew they would be ‘loud and proud’ but what they did to lift the team, particularly at times when encouragement was needed, was something else.
“They’ve never wavered right through our difficult spell, but thankfully they got some reward today. This win was for them, as well as for everyone else at the club.”
With ten games still to go — the last third of the season — Naylor’s men are now third off the bottom, on the same points as Rochdale (11) and only one behind eighth-placed Dewsbury.
They are at home again next Sunday to another top-four side, Featherstone Rovers.
Adam Neal (jaw), Danny Langtree (arm) and George Tyson (knee) were in the wars against Toulouse.
They will be assessed at training tomorrow, along with all the other senior players who are currently sidelined with a variety of twists, sprains and dislocations.
Said coach Scott Naylor: “Neal and Langtree were taken off as precautionary measures, Adam with a very sore jaw which might need an x-ray and ‘Langers’ with an arm-elbow problem.
“Tyson has had a problem with a knee for a week or two, but it’s something we’ve been managing and we will attempt to keep on doing it until the end of the season.”
Commenting on Liam Thompson’s 80-minute defensive shift in the second-row, he said: “He’s lost a little bit of weight and it’s done him good. He’s looking like his old self again.”
The related RFL disciplinary cases against Sammy Gee for striking and Rochdale’s Lewis Galbraith for verbal abuse will be resumed in Leeds this evening.