OLDHAM played scintillating and exciting expansive rugby to score eight tries in a 48-12 demolition job on Betfred League 1 leaders Whitehaven at the Vestacare Stadium.
It carried Scott Naylor’s men into the last 16 of the new 1895 Cup in which they will play fellow League 1 opponents Doncaster, also at home on a date to be announced in the near future.
‘Haven, who have the best defensive record in League 1, have now played twice at Oldhm this season, losing 36-12 in the league and 48-12 in the 1895 Cup.
Coincidentally, Roughyeds have the best attacking record and it wasn’t difficult to see why here as they put the ball through hands, right and left, to register five of their eight tries by the outside backs.
Clearly a marked man, the prolific Zack McComb didn’t score this time, but his fellow backs capitalised on the Cumbrians’ obsession with McComb to run in tries by man-of-the-match Ritchie Hawkyard, elusive right-wing Kyran Johnson, stand-off Paul Crook and left centre Jack Holmes, who crossed twice.
‘Langers’ and Matty Wilkinson (2) piled on the agony for the Cumbrians with more tries to hopefully leave RFL top-brass in the shape of chief executive Ralph Rimmer, a spectator in the stand, purring with satisfaction at the quality of the rugby league on view.
What a pity there were only 369 fans in the ground to enjoy it.
When it was all over, man of the match Hawkyard and Champagne Moment recipient Paul Crook told how coach Scott Naylor had urged his players to throw the ball around and play fast, open rugby.
Said full-back Hawkyard:
“The game plan was to be a bit more expansive.”
Added stand-off Crook, whose try and eight conversions gave him 20 of his side’s 48 points:
“We set out to throw the ball about and it seemed to work well.”
Both said they expected to be reigned in a bit at half-time because of some handling errors but, instead, they were encouraged to continue playing with flair and imagination because the more they did it the more accomplished they would become.
Crook, who doubles up as a member of the coaching team, said it was intended to play in a similar fashion, and build on this success, over the remainder of the season.
Individually, there were eye-catching performances also by winger Johnson, who soaked up a series of heavy knocks; by Phil Joy in his first spell; by the peerless Langtree on the right and Danny Bridge on the left; by the man who knows only one route into the heart of opposing defences, Scott Law; and by will o’ the wisp hooker Wilkinson, who was back after injury and looked as lively as ever.
‘Haven were hanging on to Oldham’s coat tails at 18-12 as half-time approached, but Johnson’s try on the stroke of the interval hooter was to prove the game-breaker.
The visitors didn’t score again as Roughyeds added four more converted tries without reply in the second half.
To make matters worse for the visitors left-wing Dave Thompson was sin-binned in the second half for a challenge on Johnson, who finished up with his legs in the air before crashing to the ground in some obvious discomfort.
The 12 men from the sport’s north-west frontier managed to keep Oldham out while Thompson was sidelined but they couldn’t prevent the smart-looking Roughyeds adding 18 points in the last 12 minutes.
How good was that ?
OLDHAM: Hawkyard; Johnson, McComb, Holmes, Maders; Crook, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Spencer, Bridge, Langtree, Bent. Subs: Law, Gwaze, Wilkinson, Whittel.
Tries: Langtree (3), Hawkyard (8), Wilkinson (30, 50), Johnson (39), Holmes (68, 77), Crook (70);
Goals: Crook 8/8
WHITEHAVEN: Taylor; Burns, JJ Parker, Mossop, Thompson; Carter, Aiye; McGoff, Dowsett, Maudling, B Phillips, Holliday, Moore. Subs: Bradley, Coward, McAvoy, Newton.
Tries: Carter (17), Holliday (35).
Goals: Moore 2/2
Pens: 10-9 Referee: Mr J Roberts Att: 369