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Davies, Nelmes sent off in double whammy

OLDHAM props Ben Davies and Luke Nelmes saw red in a 24-16 Betfred League 1 defeat by Bradford Bulls.

Davies was sent off for dissent in the 50th minute by Aussie referee Matthew Rossleigh and Nelmes was despatched for an early bath near the end for throwing a punch.

At the same time Oldham full-back Luke Hooley was sin-binned for tripping, leaving ten-man Roughyeds to exit the field on the final hooter to a standing ovation after keeping the Bulls scoreless for nearly 50 minutes despite their numerical handicap.

Roughyeds’ battle to make the play-offs now goes to the last weekend of the season and they will take heart from ‘nilling’ top-two opposition in the second half on consecutive Sundays.

If they win at London Skolars next Saturday and Whitehaven lose at title-chasing York City Knights 24 hours later, Scott Naylor’s men will clinch fifth place and a play-off test . . . at Bradford.

There is every possibility that what we saw in the final home game of the regular season at the Vestacare Stadium (attendance 1,038) was a dress rehearsal for a shoot-out at Odsal in a fortnight’s time.

Should Roughyeds be petrified at the prospect ? No way.

The emphasis this week will be on first things first; namely, making sure they complete the essentials by winning in north London against a side that can be unpredictably stubborn on home ground.

York struggled down there, winning narrowly in the end, and Scott Naylor’s men will need to defend with the heroism they displayed in this one, especially when down to 12 men; concentrate and stay focused for the full game; and stop making mistakes and inviting opponents back into their red zone.

In this instance Oldham defended well early on before taking a 10-0 lead with tries by David Hewitt and Matt Reid, Hooley converting one of them.

Inexplicably, they then switched off and conceded four tries in less than 20 minutes to trail 24-10 at half-time.

It all began to go wrong after the first Bulls try when Gareth Owen put his foot on the restart kick which then went dead.

Briscoe was called upon to smash Liam Kirk into submission on the Roughyeds try line, but a gap finally opened up for Matt Storton, whose try was improved by Joe Keys.

In the next few minutes Lee Kershaw knocked-on; Craig Briscoe lost the ball in a tackle; Hooley put down a Dane Chisholm bomb; and at the other end a high kick by Owen, playing at half-back, fell nicely for Bulls winger Jy Hitchcox, who evaded a tackle and went more than half the length of the pitch to score.

A few minutes later George Flanagan went in with a sucker-punch dummy from behind the play-the-ball, whereupon Hooley’s restart kick went out on the full.

Big Ross Peltier scored next, Keys made it four from four with the goal, and Hooley’s restart again went out with bouncing.

On the stroke of half-time Matty Wilkinson looked like scoring only to be brought back for obstruction.

Oldham had suddenly gone from a side that was strong, decisive and tough as old boots to one that looked dodgy in defence and vulnerable.

Knowing his side’s normal steel-like qualities — rough, tough, durable and looking like they enjoy defending — the aforesaid 20 minutes must have been doubly frustrating for Scott Naylor.

Roughyeds had made a blistering start after the kick-off was delayed five minutes because of problems on the M62 coming from Yorkshire.

Bulls dominated early on but they were rocked when David Hewitt nipped in to intercept a Keyes pass intended for stand-off Dane Chisholm and raced away to score under the posts.

Hooley kicked the goal but he failed narrowly to convert a second try only a few minutes later.

Hewitt floated a high ball to the left-hand corner, Kershaw jumped into the air and knocked the ball back, and Reid picked up to fly in at the corner.

At 10-0 to the good Oldham were flying, but the balance of power was to change dramatically and the Bulls led 24-10 at half-time.

Oldham could surely do better than that . . . and, wow, how they proved it.

Almost from the off, Matty Wilkinson was held up over the line before Oldham moved the ball quickly left and Hooley got over in the corner only to be blown back because it was alleged he had made a double movement.

A couple of minutes later came the first red card. The match official had just penalisd Roughyeds for an offence in the tackle when Davies was sent off for muttering things in the direction of the referee.

But this was better by Oldham now. Danny Langtree was twice held just short as Roughyeds dominated possession and kept the Bulls pinned down at the bottom end of the ground.

Bulls were but a pale shadow of what they had been earlier as Scott Naylor’s men upped the tempo and dominated the second half.

Though a man down, they pushed forward in droves and took the game to the Bulls who at times seem bewildered about what was going on.

They got their reward when Briscoe scored and Hooley goaled to bring it back to 16-24, whereupon there was a flashpoint in which players of both sides squared up.
Hooley got yellow for tripping at the play-the-ball, followed by Nelmes for alleged punching.

Oldham were still attacking at the end, ten men or not, and when the hooter finally went there was no doubt that they had taken all the garlands in the second half and given Bulls something to think about ahead of a potential showdown at Odsal in the play-off.

Oldham scorers: goals, Hooley 2/3; tries, Hewitt, Reid Briscoe.
Bulls: goals, Keyes 4/4; tries, Storton, Hitchcox, Flanagan, Peltier.

Oldham: Hooley; Johnson, Holmes, Reid, Kershaw; Owen, Hewitt; Neal, Hughes, Joy, Briscoe, Langtree, Bent. Subs: Spencer, Wilkinson, Nelmes, Davies.
Bulls: Pickersgill; Hitchcox, Gibson, Egodo, Ryan; Keyes, Chisholm; Kirk, Lilley, Crossley, Storton, Minchella, Wood. Subs: Flanagan, Bustin, Greem, Peltier.

Ref: Matthew Rossleigh; Att: 1,038.

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AS you all know from your own experiences these are tough times for everybody, but we believe you will agree that OLDHAM RLFC is taking massive inspiration from the fabulous NHS and other key workers in tackling Covid head-on, while looking forward positively to the 2021 season and better times ahead thanks to the outstanding work now being done to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Nevertheless, we have to face facts and be realistic enough to accept that the club urgently needs every pound that is currently coming in from whatever source. One of those sources is our Club Cash lottery and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who support us on this. A lot of you who used to pay our collectors on the doorstep have responded to our suggestions on how to pay by different methods and we are extremely grateful for that. Thanks again. You will never know how much difference your contributions make.

Alas, our income from the lottery has dropped by more than 50 per cent over the course of the pandemic and that would be a huge blow financially at any time let alone a time of unprecedented hardship because of the pandemic. It really is a situation we seriously need to address.

With that in mind the prize fund for the duration of the latest national lockdown will be temporarily reduced from February 10.

You will still be able to win a £1,000 first prize, plus £100, £50, £25 and ten £10 prizes every week, while continuing to provide vital support for the club and it will only cost you £1 a week. You can’t get a decent coffee for that, but the difference it makes to the club when multiplied a few times over and then multiplied again by 52 – the number of weeks in the financial year – is of major significance.

If you can help us at all — for £1 a week — it would be hugely appreciated by everyone with Oldham RL Club at heart. The prize structure still represents good value for money for an outlay of £1.

To those who are already members and help us accordingly, we very much hope to retain your support at this extremely difficult time.

Should you wish to play but don’t, due to the pausing of cash collection rounds, we have other options available, which you can discuss with our lottery administrator, John McAndrew on 07980129541 or from the club on 07904 898177.

Alternatively, you can send an email to: mcandrewj@aol.com or to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

The prize fund will be increased back to previous levels as soon as latest lockdowns are released. Please watch our website and social media platforms for further announcements.

Finally, if you want more information about the lottery or you wish to discuss your membership please contact one of the numbers given above.

A huge thank-you to you all.

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