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Law Cup comes home as Naylor’s new boys make promising start

OLDHAM produced a spirited performance to regain the Law Cup with a thoroughly-deserved 28-24 win against derby rivals Rochdale Hornets at the Crown Oil Arena.

Teamwork and the sheer will to win were key ingredients of a solid, all-round effort which earned unqualified praise from head coach Scott Naylor.

“This was the Oldham of old,” he said. “Their appetite for the challenge was second to none. They were proud to play for the club and they bought into our message that losing wasn’t an option. That, for me, was the biggest thing of all.”

Individually, there was an outstanding contribution by two-try centre Matt Reid, who had the sort of debut players can only dream about. His second try was an absolute gem which earned him the Oldham RL Heritage man-of-the-match award.

The left-flank, comprising of Reid, Danny Bridge and winger Chris Barlow, all playing outside Dave Hewitt, looked particularly threatening.

The variety of Hewitt’s kicking on the left and the strength and distance of Paul Crook’s boot on the other side of the field were largely instrumental in assuring that most of the second half was played in the Hornets half.

Crook chipped in for good measure with six goals from seven attempts and they included three second-half penalties, which were of paramount importance on a night when each side scored four tries.

Oldham, fielding 11 new boys in their squad of 20, were off to a great start when Kenny Hughes was held up over the line from dummy half and the ball was then shipped left where the tall and rangy Reid managed to squeeze over in the corner for an unconverted try.

Rochdale recovered their composure to take a 12-4 lead with tries by Ben Moores and Gary Middlehurst, both converted by Lewis Palfrey.

A Middlehurst bust up the middle laid on the Moores try before a Danny Yates cross-kick produced a try for Middlehurst, again converted by Palfrey.

It was important for Oldham to break back before half-time and they did it with a Hewitt chip to the corner which winger Barlow pulled into his body before crashing over. The try was awarded and Crook added the goal off the touchline to cut the home side’s interval lead to two points.

Oldham dominated the first 25 minutes of the second half to score ten unanswered points with two Crook penalty goals and then Reid’s gem of a try, again goaled by Crook.

Bridge released him at half-way with a beautifully-timed pass and the centre did the rest with an outrageous dummy on the full-back to cross without a finger laid on him.

With a 20-12 lead, Roughyeds looked home and dry, but credit Hornets with a lot of hard work to minimise the threat of the big boot from Hewitt and Crook.

First, they chased and harassed Crook to catch him in possession and when Oldham put the ball back to Hewitt to pursue their other kicking option Luke Adamson was up to charge down his former team mate’s boot-on-ball and score an easy try on the rebound. Palfrey added the goal quickly and it wide open at 18-20.

Both defences became more vulnerable in the later stages. Oldham, the better side, stretched their lead again when a confident and at times elusive Steve Nield pounced on Crook’s teasing chip to the Hornets line. Crook goaled and then added his third penalty of the match to take Roughyeds out to 28-18.

There were only three minutes let when Blake Turner forced his way over for a fourth Hornets try which Palfrey again improved, but Oldham held on for a win that wasn’t only fully deserved but which gave supporters plenty of optimism for the season ahead.

As always, the forwards were the heart and soul of a rousing team performance. They all worked hard, with eye-catching individual contributions from new boys Liam Bent, Luke Nelmes and Adam Jones.

Scorers: Hornets — tries, Moores, Middlehurst, L Adamson, Turner; goals, Palfrey 4/4; Oldham — tries, Reid (2), Barlow, Nield; goals, Crook 6/7.

HORNETS: Lepori; Kay, Mulkeen, Hurst, Gaskell; Palfrey, Yates; Taira, Moores, Mitchell, Middlehurst, Allen, L Adamson; Replacements, Maneely, Hadden, T Adamson, Hema, Turner, Brickhill, Hatton, Gregory.

OLDHAM: Johnson; Eccleston, Holmes, Reid, Barlow; Crook, Hewitt; Neal, Hughes, Spencer, Bridge, Langtree, Bent; Replacements, Briscoe, Davies, Jones, Nelmes, Nield, Wilkinson, Rasool.

Referee: John McMullen; Att: 504; HT: 12-10.

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AS you all know from your own experiences these are tough times for everybody, but we believe you will agree that OLDHAM RLFC is taking massive inspiration from the fabulous NHS and other key workers in tackling Covid head-on, while looking forward positively to the 2021 season and better times ahead thanks to the outstanding work now being done to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Nevertheless, we have to face facts and be realistic enough to accept that the club urgently needs every pound that is currently coming in from whatever source. One of those sources is our Club Cash lottery and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who support us on this. A lot of you who used to pay our collectors on the doorstep have responded to our suggestions on how to pay by different methods and we are extremely grateful for that. Thanks again. You will never know how much difference your contributions make.

Alas, our income from the lottery has dropped by more than 50 per cent over the course of the pandemic and that would be a huge blow financially at any time let alone a time of unprecedented hardship because of the pandemic. It really is a situation we seriously need to address.

With that in mind the prize fund for the duration of the latest national lockdown will be temporarily reduced from February 10.

You will still be able to win a £1,000 first prize, plus £100, £50, £25 and ten £10 prizes every week, while continuing to provide vital support for the club and it will only cost you £1 a week. You can’t get a decent coffee for that, but the difference it makes to the club when multiplied a few times over and then multiplied again by 52 – the number of weeks in the financial year – is of major significance.

If you can help us at all — for £1 a week — it would be hugely appreciated by everyone with Oldham RL Club at heart. The prize structure still represents good value for money for an outlay of £1.

To those who are already members and help us accordingly, we very much hope to retain your support at this extremely difficult time.

Should you wish to play but don’t, due to the pausing of cash collection rounds, we have other options available, which you can discuss with our lottery administrator, John McAndrew on 07980129541 or from the club on 07904 898177.

Alternatively, you can send an email to: mcandrewj@aol.com or to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

The prize fund will be increased back to previous levels as soon as latest lockdowns are released. Please watch our website and social media platforms for further announcements.

Finally, if you want more information about the lottery or you wish to discuss your membership please contact one of the numbers given above.

A huge thank-you to you all.

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