A HEARTY ‘well done’ to all 17 Oldham players who performed in the 14-12 win against Toulouse Olympique at Bower Fold.
Three goals by Dave Hewitt and tries by Steve Nield and George Tyson did the trick and earned the two precious league points that lifted us above Swinton Lions and out of the bottom two.
The Oldham team lined up like this: Nield; Clay, Tyson, Gee, Pearce-Paul; Wood, Hewitt; Neal, Hughes, Smith, Thompson, Langtree, Adamson, Subs: Wilkinson, Adebiyi, Bent, Davies.
We got off to a good start after winning the toss and electing to play up the slope in the first half — our usual tactic if we get the choice.
Kenny Hughes was twice held up over the line before we surged into the lead in the 14th minute when Hewitt and Liam Thompson switched the direction of attack and ‘Nieldy’ came through on the burst to find the gap and go over.
Roughyeds were in no mood to be brushed aside by the full-time men from the South of France, as clearly shown when first Thompson and then Tyson pulled off big hits which produced high-fives and back-slaps all round.
A rare mistake, and then an infringement, gave Toulouse field position to put us under pressure for the first time and it resulted in a try for Planas after 23 minutes, which Kheirallah improved for a 6-4 lead.
It remained like that to half-time as our young side, including six players who were 21 or under, gave everything they had, watched by a posse of senior players in the stand — Phil Joy, Joe Burke, Richard Lepori, Scott Turner, Michael Ward, Scott Leatherbarrow, Jack Spencer, Gareth Owen and Craig Briscoe.
New-boy Matty Wilkinson, who came off the bench to make his debut in the 25th minute, started to expose Toulouse’s marker defence at the ruck early in the second half and that, plus a Sam Wood penalty that made a terrific amount of ground, gave us the momentum to press forward and go for the jugular.
It was rewarded when the visitors’ left-side defence was stretched and Danny Langtree sent Tyson through a big hole and in for the try. Hewitt added the goal and we led 10-6.
At that stage we missed a great chance when Wilkinson made a stunning break, but two penalty goals by Hewitt took us out to 14-6, after which we had a lot of excellent and gutsy defending to do.
In the end, French international hooker Charles Bouzinac squeezed over from dummy half and the conversion cut our lead to 14-12 and set up a tense and nail-biting final ten minutes.
Toulouse threw everything at us but we held firm with some brilliant defending, highlighted by massive hits from Luke Adamson and Sam Wood on Bouzinac and Tyla Hepi.
It sealed a fabulous victory and put everyone in good heart for the next big test against Featherstone Rovers, again at Bower Fold, this coming Sunday, July 9 (3pm kick-off). Hope to see you there.
Scorers: Oldham — tries, Nield, Tyson. Goals: Hewitt (3); Toulouse — tries, Planas, Bouzinac. Goals: Kheirallah (2).
Referee, Ben Thaler. Att: 519.