New-look Roughyeds in seventh heaven

FOR various reasons, mainly injury, squad rotation, a desire to spread the workload and a plan to give more players more game time, Oldham’s 60-0 win at Coventry Bears was achieved without the likes of Dave Eccleston, Adam Neal, Jack Spencer, Adam Jones, Kenny Hughes, Danny Bridge and on-loan Luke Hooley.

Prop Ben Davies played his first game of the season after a long lay-off with back trouble; Jack Holmes started at centre and finished at half-back; Craig Briscoe made his first start this year and did the full 80 minutes; Paul Crook was taken out of the firing line midway through the second half; Danny Langtree was given a spell at loose-forward; and there wasn’t a dual-reg man in sight.

A glance at the bench late in the game revealed that front-line men Matty Wilkinson, Crook, Langtree and Luke Nelmes were all taking time out together.

“We changed things round a bit, but the aim was always to replicate the sort of performance we gave against Doncaster,”

said assistant boss Peter Carey.

To ‘nil’ opponents for the fourth time this year, three away from home, was hugely creditable.

With the greatest respect to the plucky Bears they weren’t the strongest or most experienced opponents Oldham will have to face in the second half of the Betfred League 1 campaign.

They worked hard and tirelessly, shirking nothing in defence or in the mental capacity to keep on tackling and testing themselves as they slipped further and further into arrears.

Oldham were simply too strong and too good for them in recording their seventh league win in a row with 11 tries and eight goals.

Back-row forwards Briscoe and Langtree each scored a brace of tries with others coming from Davies, Ben West, Wilkinson, Danny Rasool, Crook, Kyran Johnson and Dave Hewitt.

Halves Crook and Hewitt didn’t only score; they were also largely responsible for setting up several of the tries for eager colleagues.

Many would feel the best of the bunch though was full-back Johnson’s exciting long-range kick return which carried him solo over two-thirds of the pitch as he sped past one beaten defender after another.

As he left the heavy traffic behind and broke into the clear with only his opposing full-back to beat, eager beaver Wilkinson joined him on his inside but Johnson had the confidence and self-belief to find an extra gear and go all the way to the line himself.

His positional play in defence was good too — a fine all-round performance by the former Featherstone Rovers man.

Other eye-catching individual efforts came from Briscoe and Langtree, while Phil Joy, Davies, Liam Bent and Luke Nelmes made sure that Roughyeds kept rolling forward, as they usually do.

On the back of that Hewitt and Crook had plenty of possession with which to make things happen and dummy halves Gareth Owen and Matty Wilkinson could take advantage of quick play-the-balls.

In their contrasting styles, both hookers stamped their mark indelibly on this 11-try performance which also included eight conversions — six by Crook and two by Hewitt.

Owen provided Davies with a walk-in after only five minutes — a great start for the comeback prop.

Johnson’s long cut-out pass sent in West at the corner in the 11th minute and Roughyeds were on their way.

Tries came thick and fast after that with Wilkinson, Briscoe, Langtree and Rasool going in for a 32-0 half-time lead.

Crook himself set the ball rolling in the second half when he touched down Hewitt’s grubber into the in-goal.

He then went back to type by providing the final pass for Langtree’s second try.

Johnson’s super solo followed before Hewitt backed-up well to get his own name on the try list.

That done, he also reverted to type by slipping Briscoe through a tight hole for try No 11.

In the interesting head-to-head confrontation of Matt Reid and Coventry’s on-loan Kameron Pearce-Paul, the young London Broncos centre who was a Roughyed for much of last year, honours broke about even.

COVENTRY: Chapman; Hunte, Pearce-Paul, Bass, Carter; Emanuelli, Stead; Guertjens, Williams, Ryan, Gray, Barratt, Vitalini. Subs, Rice-Wilson, Mason, Lloyd-Jones, Aldred.
OLDHAM: Johnson; West, Holmes, Reid, Kershaw; Crook, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Davies, Briscoe, Langtree, Bent. Subs: Nelmes, Wilkinson, Rasool. McComb.

Ref: S Race.

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