AS preparation for season-defining back-to-back games against York City Knights and Bradford Bulls, the Roughyeds’ 58-6 win against Coventry Bears was probably a tad too easy.
Led around the park by a lively little scrum-half in Ben Stead, the Bears never stopped trying and never stopped working hard, but they couldn’t prevent the home side running in ten tries, nine of which were converted.
Jack Holmes, Danny Langtree and man-of-the-match Matty Wilkinson each bagged a brace, while others were scored by Craig Briscoe, Luke Hooley, Ben West and Phil Joy.
Coming off the bench, dummy-half Wilkinson gave an exciting performance in which he continually opened up the Bears defence with incisive running from the back of the ruck.
Like Wilkinson, full-back Luke Hooley also caught the eye with his clever distribution when coming into the attacking line from the back.
He took the champagne-moment award though for taking over goal-kicking duties late in the game and immediately landing a cracking goal from the right-hand touchline to convert a Ben West try in the corner.
No doubt looking to next week’s massive game at York, assistant boss Peter Carey pulled off Danny Langtree and later Paul Crook in the second half, whereupon Hooley took over as marksman.
Crook landed seven goals from eight shots before his departure to take his League 1 tally for the season to 104.
Roughyeds made changes, leaving out several backs — the injured Kyran Johnson plus Dave Eccleston, Matt Reid, Dave Hewitt and Zack McComb — as well as Liam Bent in the —forwards.
Danny Rasool and Jack Holmes figured at centre; Gareth Owen partnered Crook at half-back; and Kenny Hughes was back at hooker for the first time in ten weeks.
It was good to see Hughes back in action, but the requirement not to over-cook him after such a lengthy absence meant Wilkinson had more game time than usual — and he revelled in it.
Oldham led 28-6 at half-time and could have had a more substantial lead had they respected the ball more and completed more sets.
Lee Kershaw never put a foot wrong on the left wing, strong, elusive and determined whenever he had ball in hand, but too many of his colleagues made unforced errors.
As ever, the forwards were up for it with Adam Jones, Luke Nelmes and Ben Davies forming the nucleus of a powerful bench after Adam Neal, Phil Joy and Jack Spencer had completed the initial spadework.
Davies, who spent the first half of the season on the injury list, looks to be getting stronger and more confident with each passing game.
Hooley’s interventions were largely instrumental in early tries for Holmes (2) and Briscoe.
Wilkinson then laid on a couple for ‘Langers’ to take his tally for the season to 20 as he closes in on winger Nick Johnson’s club record 25.
Early in the second half Wilkinson crowned off his big day with two tries for himself, the first a solo, the second off good work by Holmes.
The hooker then stepped up to the mark again to fashion tries for Hooley and West before Adam Neal strode through a huge gap and sent in the supporting Joy for Oldham’s tenth and final try.
OLDHAM: Hooley; West, Holmes, Rasool, Kershaw; Owen, Crook; Neal, Hughes, Joy, Briscoe, Langtree, Spencer; subs (all used): Jones, Wilkinson, Nelmes, Davies.
COVENTRY: Carter; Rance, Morley-Samuels, Bass, Freeman; Rice-Wilson, Stead; Ryan, Williams, Lloyd-Jones, Sherrat, Barratt, Bateman; subs (all used): Sheridan, Hughes, Kaufman, Stewart.
Ref: J McMullen; Att: 374.