OLDHAM and Hunslet have had some cracking games in recent years, most of them going down to the wire, writes ROGER HALSTEAD.
If tomorrow’s (Good Friday) clash at the Vestacare Stadium is half as exciting as the last five times these two sides have gone head to head then supporters of both allegiances will get super value for money and enjoy a great holiday afternoon.
They were in different divisions in 2015, 2016 and 2017, but who can forget the three meetings in 2014, each of which was decided by a SINGLE POINT.
Roughyeds won 24-23 at what was then called Whitebank and 25-24 at the South Leeds Stadium, but Hunslet won the one that really mattered, prevailing 17-16 at Headingley in the Championship 1 Grand Final thanks to Thomas Coyle’s extra-time golden-point drop goal.
It was the second time in the first two years of Scott Naylor’s tenure of the Oldham hot-seat that Roughyeds had lost out in the Grand Final, but they won promotion by a different route 12 months later and the celebrations were all the sweeter for losses in earlier Grand Finals.
Hunslet and Roughyeds didn’t cross paths again until last season when the Yorkshiremen triumphed home and away in two tight games.
At the Vestacare Stadium in April, Scott Naylor’s men led 16-6 midway through the second half only to allow the visitors to come back strongly with 18 unanswered points in the later stages to win 24-16.
Oldham were so much on top at one stage in the second half that they very nearly went 22-6 up when Craig Briscoe went under the posts only for the try to be disallowed for a dropped ball.
Hunslet responded with three converted tries in 15 minutes by Duane Straughier, currently out on long-term injury, Niall Walker and Jack Blagbrough.
The attendance was 544 — one that club officials will be hoping to be significantly increased this time.
There followed a run of eight Roughyeds wins in a row so they weren’t lacking in confidence or self-belief when they went to the South Leeds Stadium on a baking-hot day in June and were knocked off their pedestal in a 16-12 defeat.
Danny Langtree pulled a hamstring in training during the week leading up to the game and both Danny Bridge (knee) and Phil Joy (ribs) were hurt in the first half and didn’t come out for the second half.
In an ill-tempered game both sides were put on a team warning and Nathan Chappel was placed on report for a spear tackle on Luke Hooley.
It was the third time in a row that Hunslet had got the better of an Oldham side that will surely need no motivating in their bid to get their own back on Good Friday, 2019.
Fans will be hoping that a wounded Roughyed is a very dangerous Roughyed . . . and they were certainly wounded at Newcastle last time out when they went down after leading 22-6 after half an hour.
“We need to put that behind us now, produce a professional performance and hit a level that we can maintain from now to September,”