NINE POINTS in the last nine minutes — a RAM-raid if ever there was one — floored Roughyeds in the final game of the season at Bower Fold.
Having scored four tries to three at that stage, Scott Naylor’s men led 22-20 on the hour, but the whole momentum changed when Luke Adamson was penalised for a questionable ball-steal and Paul Sykes levelled things up at 22-22.
Roughyeds rarely saw the ball after that. Michael Knowles dropped a goal to edge Dewsbury in front for the second time and then the home defence seemed to freeze when Sykes kicked low to his right wing and winger Thomas Halliday collected in his stride to cut inside and finish off behind the posts.
Sykes landed his sixth goal of the match and Dewsbury were home and dry at 29-22 in a dead-rubber of a game. Oldham were relegated the week before and Rams would finish fourth out of eight in the Championship Shield no matter how today’s game finished.
Oldham began well. With only four minutes on the clock the forwards set up position under the Rams posts and slick passing to the left by Dave Hewitt and Adamson opened up space for Richard Lepori to cross wide out. Hewitt goaled.
It took Rams only five minutes to respond with an almost identical try, Sykes pushing the supporting Shaun Squires into a gap and past a despairing challenge by Danny Grimshaw on the line. Sykes goal, 6-6.
Scoring in turn, Joe Burke went in for Oldham after a big drive by Adam Neal, but Dewsbury squared things up a second time when Sam Day crossed from dummy-half close to the line. Sykes goaled and then added a penalty goal on the stroke of half-time when Gareth Moore chipped over the top and was then taken out off the ball.
Rams led 14-12 at the interval in an evenly-fought game which produced spells of good rugby even though neither side had anything tangible to gain apart from winning pay.
Six penalties in a row leading up to half-time enabled Rams to gain the momentum and the trend continued after the break with two more penalties — eight in a row –followed by a second try for Squires and the Sykes goal.
Trailing 12-20 Roughyeds were now up against it, but they cut the deficit when Danny Grimshaw crossed after quick movement of the ball, right to left, featuring Scott Leatherbarrow, Hewitt, Ben Davies and Sammy Gee.
Hewitt failed with his kick, but he made no mistake minutes later after Liam Thompson scored. Leatherbarrow picked a George Tyson pass off his boot-tops and in the same movement drilled a low-trajectory kick in to the in-goal for Thompson to run through and touch down.
That put Roughyeds 22-20 in front and they looked capable of going on to win, but it was all to change when Adamson nicked the ball off a Rams attacker and was pulled back for a steal. He thought it was one-on-one, but referee Greg Nolan thought differently and Sykes levelled with the penalty goal.
The next time Rams hit the home 20 Knowles dropped a goal and then the visitors wrapped it all up three minutes from time when man-of-the-match Sykes kicked cleverly to the wing and Halliday raced on to the ball to score his side’s fourth try.
Sykes goaled, six out of six, and it was all over.
OLDHAM: Lepori; Clay, Tyson, Grimshaw, Nield; Leatherbarrow, Hewitt; Burke, Hughes, Neal, Spencer, Thompson, L Adamson. Subs: Wilkinson, Davies, Ward, Gee.
DEWSBURY: Squires; Morton, Hallett, Wallshaw, Halliday; Sykes, Moore; Sherrife, Ward, Teanby, T Adamson, Crowther, Goudemand. Subs: Day, Ollett, Knowles, Everette.
Scorers: Oldham — goals, Hewitt 3/4; tries, Lepori (4), Burke (19), Grimshaw (50), Thompson (58); Dewsbury — goals, Sykes 6/6; drop goal, Knowles; tries, Squires (9, 45), Day (31), Halliday (77).
Ref, Greg Dolan ; Attendance: 429.