A SLICK start and a fine finish enabled Oldham to do a job on under-rated London Skolars in another entertaining afternoon at the Vestacare Stadium.
In between, Roughyeds were well below their best, but they were impressive when racing into a 12-0 lead inside six minutes and they were on fire in the last 20 minutes when they rattled up 26 points, including a Danny Bridge hat-trick, to win 44-12.
Bridge had a brilliant game — and so too did his back-row ally Danny Langtree.
Zack McCombe was the pick of the outside backs.
Other forwards to show up well were Phil Joy, Liam Bent and the two hookers, Gareth Owen and Matty Wilkinson.
Scott Naylor made five changes in his 17, recalling Luke Hooley, Dave Eccleston, Jack Spencer, Danny Bridge and Adam Jones instead of Kyran Johnson, Matty Reid, Ben West, Danny Rasool and Luke Nelmes.
It was the first time this season that action-man Nelmes missed out as part of Naylor’s rotation plan. Last week at Coventry, Bridge was rested, also for the first time.
Whether he was out to make up for lost time we will never know, but both he and the other Danny boy (Langers) ripped Skolars apart in a win which sets up the Roughyeds nicely for next Sunday’s big game at Hunslet.
It would be fair to say, though, that the players, Scott and the coaching staff will all be looking for a better and more consistent 80 minutes at the South Leeds Stadium than they provided here.
They began with a bang with two tries down the lethal left edge in the first six minutes.
Bridge sent in Dave Hewitt for the first and Hooley presented a lively looking McComb with the second, both improved by Paul Crook.
Did they score too easily too soon ?
Whatever the reason, execution was poor after that bright start; right-edge chances were fluffed; the kicking game was average at best; and shortly before the half-hour mark a wide right-to-left pass by Hooley was intercepted by Illess Macani, who went the full length of the pitch to score.
Neil Thorman added the angled goal and Oldham found themselves only 12-6 to the good despite that exciting start, followed by long periods in possession.
Skolars were without two key men in full-back Ryan Burroughs, who had scored a try in each of their last four games, and second-row man Lamont Bryan.
They switched Thorman from half-back to full-back and coach Jermaine Coleman named himself as stand-off and chief play-maker for his first appearance of the season.
Coleman was pivotal to everything Skolars had to offer on attack, while Thorman was a key figure in their second-half performance after his switch to the dummy-half role.
Oldham were anxious to stretch their lead before half-time and on one of the last plays of the first half Langtree was stopped just short before Wilkinson went blind from behind the play-the-ball and just managed to squeeze the ball down on the line.
Referee Jonathan Roberts had to get down on his hands and knees to get the view he needed to confirm the try. Crook’s goal made it 18-6 at the interval.
In stark contrast to the start of the first half, Oldham were soon up against it at the start of the second.
Adam Jones was sin-binned for leading with the elbow in possession — no arguments there — and within a couple of minutes Coleman used all his experience and know-how to create the softest of tries for Eddie Mbaraga, which Thorman improved. 18-12.Game On.
It was while they were down to 12 men that Roughyeds began to regain the initiative and the ascendancy.
It started when Langtree took Wilkinson’s inside ball to finish strongly with a trademark try. Crook goaled for a 24-12 lead and from thereon in Scott’s boys were in command.
Bridge crossed for the first of his three after a Hewitt cross-kick caused Skolars problems and then Hooley received a short drop out to put Holmes in at the corner.
This wasn’t one of Hooley’s better games, but he did very well on this occasion so full marks to him for that.
By this time Oldham were swarming forward like a tidal wave.
Another strong break by ‘Langers’ led to Bridge chasing down a kick into the in-goal to score and then in the dying seconds Bent galloped clear to make sure that man-of-the-moment Bridge completed his hat-trick.
Oldham scorers: tries, Hewitt, McComb, Wilkinson, Langtree, Bridge (3), Holmes; goals, Crook 6/8.
OLDHAM: Hooley; Eccleston, Holmes, McComb, Kershaw; Crook, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Spencer, Bridge, Langtree, Bent; Subs: Jones, Wilkinson, Briscoe, Davies.
Ref: Jonathon Roberts; attendance: 419.