TEN forwards with fire in their bellies and passion in their hearts paved the way for Oldham’s highly impressive 32-12 win against Doncaster.
Under a burning sun that turned Vestacare Stadium into an arena overflowing with red-hot energy and raw enthusiasm, Roughyeds were again full value for a victory that cements their place in Betfred League 1’s top three.
All the home forwards were immense, none more so than Phil Joy, Danny Bridge, Danny Langtree and Luke Nelmes.
The damage inflicted on a shell-shocked Dons by Joy and Nelmes up the middle and by Bridge and Langtree wider out was a major factor in how Scott Naylor’s heroes nailed their sixth league win on the spin.
Second-rower Bridge, a tower of strength on the left edge, was the game’s stand-out player.
Not far behind him was on-loan full-back Luke Hooley, who lived up to his reputation as a Wakefield Trinity star of the future.
From 1 to 17 Oldham were passionate, energetic, hard-working and more than equal to anything Doncaster could throw at them.
It was evident in the first few sets that Richard Horne had prepared his side to match forward power with forward power.
Awesome tackling from both sides was an early feature that didn’t go way.
Centre Jack Holmes was first to go close for Oldham before dual-reg prop Gavin Bennion lost possession as he aimed for the line.
At the other end Roughyeds dug deep to keep out Kyle Kesik and the dangerous Connor Scott.
And Naylor’s men were rewarded for their hard graft and diligence to duty when they took the lead with a Langtree try after 21 minutes.
From dummy half close to the Dons line, Gareth Owen swivelled cleverly, changed the direction of attack and fed ‘Langers’ on the burst.
The second-rower did the rest to record his seventh try of the season and to provide Paul Crook with the first of his six goals.
Oldham continued to take the game to their visitors and when they were awarded a penalty for stripping, Crook made no mistake with his second goal.
Owen and Hooley pulled off vital tackles, the club captain on the strong-running Scott and the full-back on highly-rated half-back Liam Harris, who broke spectacularly down the middle.
That was effectively the last we saw of Richard Horne’s men as an attacking force in a first half that was dominated by the home side.
Ben West was put into touch at the corner flag before Roughyeds increased their lead.
Hooley joined the line as Roughyeds went from left to right across the face of goal. He spotted a gap and glided through it in that effortless, swaying style of his ehich carried him through to the line.
Crook’s conversion added to the total and then another penalty for a shoulder charge gave Oldham a richly deserved 16-0 interval lead.
On the restart they took only two minutes to go further ahead. Bridge broke up the left channel and turned the ball inside to the supporting Matty Wilkinson.
He was hauled down just short, but a quick recycling of the ball from dummy half enabled big Luke Nelmes to go crashing in.
Crook narrowly failed to add the extras as Doncaster looked to be coming more into the game.
Oldham were twice pinned for forward passes in a short period of the game when they appeared to be losing their iron grip somewhat.
The Dons capitalised with ball in hand when Jez Litten pushed hooker Brendan Wilkinson through a hole in the defensive markings for a try. Howden goaled.
It was the one and only time in the game when Oldham were caught out defensively.
Doncaster suffered a setback when full-back Richard Owen was sin-binned for dissent, but Harris’s 40-20 gave them heart to come for more.
At 6-20 in arrears they were again attacking strongly until Harris’s angled kick for the corner was plucked out of the air by Kershaw almost on his own goal line.
Had he failed to catch the high ball it would have been another try for the visitors, but he took it cleanly and then accelerated away on a length-of-the-field dash to score.
Sanderson tried desperately from the other side of the field to cut him of, but he sidestepped the Dons winger and found the try.
Crook’s conversion gave Scott’s men a 26-6 lead, but Roughyeds were still not done.
On 75 minutes Owen and Langtree went close before Owen again used his dummy-half skills to seek out Joy on his left.
The big prop obliged and Crook goaled.
Time was virtually up when Howden kicked deep with nothing on and the bounce beat Ben West to sit up for Sanderson, who sent in Jason Tali for an easy try which Sanderson improved.
At 32-12 Roughyeds were fully deserving victors.
Oldham — tries, Langtree, Hooley, Nelmes, Kershaw, Joy; goals, Crook 6/7.
Doncaster — tries, Wilkinson, Tali; goals, Howden (1), Sanderson 1/1.
Oldham: Hooley; West, Holmes, Reid, Kershaw; Crook, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Bennion, Bridge, Langtree, Bent; Subs: Wilkinson, Jones, Briscoe, Nelmes.
Doncaster: Owen; Doherty, Bower, Tali, Sanderson; Howden, Harris; Scott, Kesik, Boyle, Martin, Downs, Wilkinson. Subs: Bienek, Braham, Litten, Muranka.
Referee: L Staveley; Att: 453.