HEAD coach Scott Naylor was delighted with his new-look Oldham side’s 28-24 Law Cup win at Rochdale, picking out strong defence and a collective will to win as the factors that pleased him most.
He said: “We looked hungry. We deserved to win because we were the better side. Our defence was good and that pleased me a lot.
“Two of their four tries were off our mistakes as we came out of defence on yardage sets and for most of the game they didn’t cause us many problems. We played good, solid rugby and defended strongly.
“We had a lot of new lads in the side but this was the Oldham of old, featuring lads who wanted to play for the club and who were prepared to give everything for the club. It was nice to see; something I missed a little bit last season.
“Individually, Matt Reid showed he is more than capable of playing to a high standard in League 1 and maybe at Championship level too.
“Craig Briscoe’s confidence will have soared after his good spell on the field (his first game in 18 months) and Dave Eccleston, straight out of the St Helens academy, looked like he could play in the Championship.
“Luke Nelmes gave us something different and Adam Jones offered a lot in defence, but all the new boys did well and we were pleased with Chris Barlow (a trialist on the wing), who took his try well and did everything we asked of him.
“The biggest plus for me, though, was the team’s overall desire and self-belief and how the players bought into our message that losing wasn’t an option. To be honest, they did better than I expected, given that it was our first run and we had so many new boys in the side, including a new half-back partnership in Paul Crook and Dave Hewitt.”
Invited to address the crowd of 504 over the public address system at the end of the game, Oldham chairman Chris Hamilton thanked everyone for their attendance on a cold night and offered a ‘fantastic well-done’ to the Roughyeds’ team.
He added: “We had a lot of new players in the squad but it was a hard game and they showed a lot of bottle.
“A big thank-you also to our fans. We’ve done you proud and hopefully we can build on this and move forward from here.
“Commiserations to Hornets and good luck for the season.”
Danny Langtree, acting captain for the night and sporting a huge grin, stepped up to receive the Law Cup, while two-try centre Matt Reid collected the Oldham RL Heritage Trophy, as Roughyeds’ man of the match, from Dave Naylor, a former winner of a national award to recognise supporters’ voluntary contributions to their club and now a member of the Oldham RLFC media team.
Gary Middlehurst, selected as Hornets’ best player on the night, received the Karl Marriott award.