Five-try Roughyeds march to third league win in a row

OLDHAM defied bright sunshine, soaring temperatures and a determined and totally committed Newcastle Thunder side to register their third consecutive league win with tries by Kieran Gill, Danny Bridge, Dave Eccleston, Phil Joy and Craig Briscoe.

Paul Crook converted four of them in a 28-12 victory which nicely sets up Scott Naylor’s squad for an assault on the play-off four in the next few weeks.

Bottom clubs Hemel Stags and West Wales Raiders are next up before the Roughyeds have a weekend off at the end of May.

By then they should be knocking on the door of the play-off places, but with that in mind it was essential they followed up league wins against Keighley Cougars and Workington Town by plundering two more points off a Thunder outfit that boasted a 100 per cent away record this season.

It was nip and tuck early on with Tom Shaw finding an excellent 40-20 for Thunder and each side forced into a goal-line drop-out.

Roughyeds were first on the scoreboard, however, when they earned themselves a strong position under the Thunder sticks.

From there, Gareth Owen, Paul Crook and the supporting Luke Hooley handled with speed and precision to give Kieran Gill a walk-in at the corner. Crook goaled off the touchline, 6-0.

Thunder were proving tough opponents and Oldham had to soak up loads of defensive pressure before they broke out once again to double their score with a try by Danny Bridge, which Crook again improved.

In the build-up, Craig Briscoe and Matty Wilkinson were held up on the line, whereupon Wilkinson squeezed out a pass which ultimately led to the Bridge score — just reward for an exceptionally bright beginning by the left-side second-rower.

Bridge and centre Matt Reid constantly had Thunder scrambling in defence, but the Roughyeds’ third try, like the first, was scored on the opposite flank.

Capitalising on their only penalty in the first half, Oldham had Thunder scrambling in the middle before opening out via Crook and Gill, whose well-executed flick-on under intense pressure got Dave Eccleston over in the corner.

Thunder, anxious to get points on the board before half-time, put the home side under a lot of pressure in the last few minutes, but the half ended with a super tackle by Lee Kershaw, which was typical of how well Roughyeds had worked in defence throughout the first half.

In the second half they weren’t quite as good. They had a couple of defensive blips and, with ball in hand, they didn’t execute to the high standard they set before the interval.

Dave Hewitt, Reid and Bridge were all either stopped on the line or held up over the line.

Oldham continued to dominate , however, and big Luke Nelmes, not for the first time nor the last, drove hard into the defensive line and caused havoc in Thunder ranks.

Wilkinson took advantage to jump out of dummy half and send out a flat ball to Joy, who was on the burst and was never going to be stopped with so much

momentum so close to the line. Crook added the goal points for a 22-0 lead.

Thunder hit back with a try out of nothing, but one that was superbly made and finished by left-wing Alistair Blair.

He had little room to move when given the ball near half-way and out on the touchline, but his speed off the mark caught Eccleston cold — and he was away up the line.

He still had a lot of work to do, but he cut inside Luke Hooley to score a grand try which Tom Shaw converted.

It was important Oldham scored next to keep their substantial lead intact. It might have happened when Reid picked up a stray ball to go clear from well inside the Oldham half.

Mo Agodo turned and caught him over distance, only to be sin-binned for holding down with Thunder’s defence in total disarray.

While he was off, Owen replaced Wilkinson at dummy half and immediately set up a crash-ball try for Briscoe — almost a carbon copy of what Wilkinson had done earlier to fashion the Joy try.

With only ten minutes to go Oldham were home and dry at 28-6, but they then lost their composure and paid the penalty when an attack broke down and Lewis Young snapped up the loose ball to race away and score his side’s second try as the final hooter sounded.

Oldham scorers: goals, Crook 4/5; tries, Gill, Bridge, Eccleston, Joy, Briscoe.

Oldham: Hooley; Eccleston, Gill, Reid, Kershaw; Crook, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Spencer, Bridge, Langtree, Bent. Subs: Briscoe, Jones, Wilkinson, Nelmes.

Thunder: Ritson; Agoro, Brown, Craig, Blair; Young, Shaw; McAvoy, Simons, J Aldous, Luckley, Clarke, H Aldous. Subs: Rennie, Fitzsimmons, Ollett, Blake.

Referee: N Bennett; Att: 455.

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