OLDHAM coach Scott Naylor has warned he might have to make “tough decisions” in a bid to find a solution to the mystery of why Roughyeds so often surrender leads in the closing stages of hard-fought battles.
For the third time in six Betfred League 1 games so far this season, Naylor’s men failed to put a lead of eight points or more under lock and key in the last few minutes and thus suffered a heart-breaking 36-28 defeat by Hunslet after leading 28-18 with eight minutes to go.
Hunslet’s 18 unanswered points in the dying embers of a fiercely-fought contest, to turn the game on its head, were a painful reminder of similar stories against Workington Town at home on the opening day of the season and against Newcastle Thunder away a fortnight ago.
Two great second-half tries by Zack McComb put the home side in a commanding position whereupon both sides were reduced to 11 men following a couple of separate flash-points in which Gareth Owen and Mike Emmett were sin-binned first and then Danny Langtree and Dan Hawksworth followed, ‘Langers’ on a yellow, the Hunslet prop on a red.
The penalty went to Oldham each time, but for ten of the remaining 13 minutes the net result was the same; both sides were reduced to 11 men on the hottest day of the year so far.
Dave Hewitt’s penalty goal from flash-point No 2 gave Oldham a 28-18 lead with 13 left and with Hawksworth taking an early shower.
What happened next left a “frustrated and disappointed” Naylor — his words — at a loss as to why his side should suddenly by out-muscled, out-run, outplayed and out-witted.
Adam Robinson crashed in, then Ben Heaton twice put the finishing touches to long, breakaway tries to leave Roughyeds flattened.
“I can’t fathom out how we can be in front against three of the best teams in this division, Workington (28-20), Newcastle (22-6) and Hunslet (28-18), each in the later stages, and lose all three.
“Against Workington and Hunslet we went 12-0 down in no time but later held leads of eight and ten points respectively before failing to see those games out.
“We need to get to the bottom of why this is happening. We need to sort it out with possibly tough decisions and make sure it doesn’t happen again
“Once is bad enough; twice shocking; third totally unacceptable.
“There’s a lot of things right about our performances, given that they enabled us to be winning all three matches against some of the stronger teams in this division with ten minutes left.
“At the same time there’s something seriously wrong because we are incapable of seeing a game out.
“It’s extremely hard to accept — and it’s totally unacceptable to me, Peter Carey, Crooky, Adam Neal and the club.
“It’s not hard to see out a game. It’s one of the easiest aspects of rugby to fathom.
“Things need to change massively and I need to make some decisions to change it otherwise other things will have to change.”