HAVING now lost four of their ten games in the first half of the Betfred League 1 season, Oldham need a vastly superior second half if they are to challenge seriously for the title and, with it, automatic promotion.
Sunday’s 31-0 hammering at Doncaster in the Roughyeds’ worst performance of the year saw them slip from third to fourth in the table and go five points adrift of leaders Whitehaven, whose only defeat was at the Vestacare Stadium on the second weekend of the season.
The manner of Oldham’s heavy defeat at the Keepmoat Stadium left management, coaching staff and fans shell-shocked.
No one saw it coming — not least Doncaster, who put on their best show of the season to date, but were as amazed as everyone else at the margin of their victory.
Roughyeds, it has to be said, were dreadful on a wet surface and in lots of heavy rain which made handling difficult — and especially so when Doncaster defended with fabulous line speed and fierce aggression.
Time and again Roughyeds were forced into error while taking man-and-ball challenges and the more frustrated they became the more they erred in trying to chase the game and making forced offloads which either ended in Donny hands or earned the home side a scrum.
Oldham were second best in every aspect of the game; beaten in the forwards, beaten at half-back; beaten out wide.
Full-back Ritchie Hawkyard was enthusiastic and full of energy on attack and defence but, in the main, Oldham’s players came out second best.
They couldn’t cope with the combined factors of tricky conditions; Doncaster’s fierce determination on attack and defence; and Beharrall’s influential kicking game.
Such was Doncaster’s individual and collective resolve that Scott Naylor’s men were reduced to a nervous-looking bunch who lacked composure, patience and the ability to stand strong when put under pressure.
The game was only three minutes old when Cameron Scott smashed through the visitors’ left-edge defence.
He fell to a great Hawkyard tackle with support on his inside, but with Oldham all over the place in defence Beharrall’s astute kick set up the opening try for Jordie Hedges.
Anthony Bowman went close for Oldham, but a visitors’ left-flank error while pressing for a try, enabled Doncaster to turn defence into attack.
Papua New Guinea international Watson Boas suddenly found the ball in his hands and he went nearly the full length of a maximum-size pitch, beating a number of covering defenders on the way, to score a second Donny try.
It was the second time in successive Sundays that he had capitalised on a misdirected Oldham pass to go the full length.
Beharrall converted both and added a couple of penalties for a 16-0 half-time load.
Oldham needed to score first on the restart but Doncaster’s Hedges blasted through more suspect Oldham tackling to score a third home try (his second), which was converted again.
At 22-0 Donny’s Jack Brown was sin-binned for upending Hawkyard, who carried on after treatment.
Beharrall then hit the post with a penalty before there was a flare-up and ‘handbags’ which saw Doncaster penalised for a first offence and Jez Litten sin-binned.
Gareth Owen and Hawkyard were also shown yellow for retaliation , but the penalty went to Oldham for the first offence.
With both sides down to 11 men chances were bound to appear in the last few minutes, but both went to Donny, who extended their lead with tries by winger Sam Doherty and full-back Jordan Howden, this one a superb score started by Jason Tali and involving plenty of razor-sharp backing up.
There remained only time for that man Beharrall to drop a goal from in front, after the hooter, to complete a dreadful day at the office for Roughyeds.
DONCASTER: Howden; Doherty, Cameron Scott, Tali, Chrimes; Boas, Beharrall; Connor Scott, Kesik, Spiers, Menzie Yere, Foster, Hedges, Subs: Boyle, Brown, Bower, Litten.
OLDHAM: Hawkyard; Aaronson, McComb, Holmes, Maders; Bowman, Hewitt; Gwaze, Owen, Spencer, Bridge, Langtree, Bent. Subs: Law, Davies, Whittel, Wilkinson.
Ref, Tom Crashley; Att: 678.