OLDHAM looked to be in a strong position to pull off a creditable win at Newcastle when leading 22-6 after half an hour but, not for the first time this season, they failed to consolidate their lead and were eventually overtaken and pipped at the post.
From the moment Kieran Gill squeezed over for Thunder’s second try a minute before half-time, the home side turned the game on its head to score 22 unanswered points and snatch a 28-22 victory to climb above Roughyeds in the Betfred League 1 table.
It reminded fans of the opening game of the season against Workington when Scott Naylor’s men led 28-20 with quarter of an hour left only to be pipped 32-28.
In a stark example of the competitiveness of this division, the top three were all beaten away this weekend, Hunslet going down at Whitehaven; Oldham at Newcastle; and Workington at London Skolars, whom Naylor had tipped to cause a few upsets after the Roughyeds beat them 34-4 at home a fortnight ago.
The top four, in this order, are now Hunslet, Whitehaven, Newcastle and Oldham, which makes our next game against Hunslet at the Vestacare Stadium on Good Friday, April 19 one of huge importance and one not to be missed.
Put a date in your diary now — Good Friday, April 19, Oldham v Hunslet, Vestacare Stadium. 3pm kick-off.
We made a sizzling start up at Newcastle, going 16-0 up inside 17 minutes with tries by Scott Law, Aaron Jones-Bishop and Lee Kershaw, the first two of them converted by Dave Hewitt.
It took Thunder time to settle and it was while they were conceding penalties and making errors that Roughyeds took advantage to produce some great attacking rugby and to earn rewards with points.
Law went in first, then Jones-Bishop on Anthony Bowman’s clever pass, then Kershaw in the opposite corner after smart ball movement from right to left.
Winger Alex Clegg pulled a try back for Thunder and Jy-mel Coleman added the goal, but there seemed little to worry about, especially when Bowman scored a fourth Oldham try and Hewitt added a third goal for a 22-6 lead.
Both sides must have realised that another try for Thunder before half-time would be priceless, but try as they might Oldham couldn’t keep the home side and with only a minute left Kieran Gill got over to put the Geordies right back in the game.
It was crucial for Oldham to score first on the restart. Worse than that, they didn’t add to their score for the whole of the second half and Thunder totally dominated the second period to score again through Tyler Craig and then add two further tries by the lively Clegg, who completed his first hat-trick for the club.
Coleman landed two conversions and a penalty to complete the scoring against an Oldham side that could do little right after their terrific opening half hour.
Two failed attempts to find touch from penalties were typical of the Roughyeds’ schoolboy errors in the second half.
They also had Jack Spencer sin-binned for a high tackle — a decision many would see to be harsh — and it was while he was off the field that Clegg completed his hat-trick with the match-clinching try.
In the last few minutes Aaron Jones-Bishop got over in the corner for Oldham, but the try was disallowed.
Scorers: Thunder — goals, Coleman 4/6; tries,Clegg (3), Craig, Gill. Oldham — goals, Hewitt 3/4; tries, Law, Jones-Bishop, Kershaw, Bowman.
Oldham: Johnson, Jones-Bishop, Holmes, McComb, Kershaw, Bowman, Hewitt, Spencer, Owen, Law, Calland, Whittel, Bent. Subs: Gwaze, Morris, Wilkinson, Greenwood.
Thunder: Young; Agoro, Craig, Gill, Clegg; Aston, Coleman; J Aldous, Carlile, Doyle-Manga, Clarke, Ollett, Simons. Subs: McAvoy, Fitzsimmons, Rowe, Blanke.