TEENAGE wing Lee Kershaw won’t forget his Oldham debut . . . two tries, a third disallowed after his length-of-the field interception and a Magic Moment award to mark a try double in his first game at senior level.
On loan from Wakefield Trinity, 18-year-old Kershaw said pre-match that he was still eligible for under-19s rugby and that his first outing against fully-grown men would challenge him physically.
Looking as strong as an ox and much older than 18, he had no need to worry about that as demonstrated when he scored his first two tries in senior rugby to give Oldham a great start in their 32-18 win against Keighley Cougars at the Vestacare Stadium.
He should have had a hat-trick, but he saluted as he crossed the line on the last play of the game . . . and had his long-range effort scrubbed by the touch-judge for incorrect grounding.
Asked about it afterwards, he was non-committal, but he was sure of one thing . . . how much he was going to enjoy playing for Oldham.
“I’ve only been here two or three days,” he said, “but the lads have been great and have made me feel very welcome.
“I just hope I can help. I’ll certainly be doing all I can.”
If Kershaw stole the limelight in the backs, the irrepressible Danny Langtree was head and shoulders in the forwards.
Presenting him with yet another man-of-the-match award, chairman Chris Hamilton said: “He was absolutely outstanding again. He’s in the form of his life.”
Scott Naylor shook up the side after the home defeat by Hunslet, leaving out Kyran Johnson, Matt Reid, Jack Holmes, Steven Nield, Phil Joy, Matty Wilkinson and Adam Jones.
They were replaced by Luke Hooley, Zack McComb, Kieran Gill, Lee Kershaw, Daniel Murray (dual-reg from Salford), Liam Bent and Kenny Hughes.
Aided by four early penalties, and playing crisp, attractive rugby, Roughyeds had an early monopoly of possession and position.
They were soon 16 points ahead thanks to a spectacular diving try by Dave Eccleston on the right and Kershaw’s two on the left where Dave Hewitt, Kieran Gill, full-back Hooley coming into the line and Danny Bridge were constantly threatening.
On the other side of the field Danny Langtree was at his best, while the middle-unit forwards put down a strong platform, led by Daniel Murray, Adam Neal, Liam Bent and, off the bench, Luke Nelmes, Craig Briscoe and Jack Spencer.
Oldham looked to be totally in control, but they couldn’t keep up the good work as Keighley came more into the game.
Four scrums in a row and six of the next seven penalties went to the Cougars, who stormed back with 14 unanswered points in the run-up to half-time.
The visitors hardly saw the ball in the first 20 minutes, but in the next 20 they seemed to have it all the time, providing good tries for Brad Nicholson and Josh Tonks and two conversions and a penalty for Ben Hardcastle.
Oldham resumed on full throttle again and they soon increased their lead when quick passing to the left side saw Hewitt and Hooley opening up some space for Gill, who turned inside and got over for a try which Paul Crook improved.
Minutes later he landed another goal. But Cougars wouldn’t go away and they scored their only points of the second half when Adam Ryder got over in the corner. This time Hardcastle failed with his conversion attempt.
The Roughyeds crowd roared in disapproval when a high tackle flattened Adam Neal. Referee Liam Stavely signalled it was a shoulder-hit, but play was stopped when Neal stayed down and a Keighley player who was in close attendance signalled that the Oldham prop needed assistance.
The match official then consulted his nearside touch-judge before placing the incident on report. There was no penalty given. Play resumed with an Oldham play-the-ball.
At 24-18 it was too close for comfort, but Naylor then re-introduced Owen off the bench and he immediately set up a match-clinching try for Liam Bent with clever distribution from dummy half.
Crook goaled and later added a penalty to put the seal on a Roughyeds victory which was perfectly timed to boost morale ahead of next Sunday’s fifth-round Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie at Bower Fold, Stalybridge, kick-off 3pm,
Oldham scorers: goals, Crook 6/7; tries, Kershaw (2), Eccleston, Gill, Bent.
Team: Hooley; Eccleston, McComb, Gill, Kershaw; Crook, Hewitt; Murray, Owen, Neal, Bridge, Langtree, Bent. Subs: Nelmes, Briscoe, Hughes, Spencer.
Keighley: Hawkyard; Dixon, Barnes, Ryder, Gabriel; Hardcastle, Fairhurst; Bailey, Wright, Griffin, Morris, Tonks, Emmett. Subs: Beharrell, Law, Conroy, Nicholson.
Referee: Liam Staveley; Att: 530.