THE last thing on the minds of North Wales Crusaders when they took on and beat Betfred League 1 leaders Whitehaven at the Recreation Ground on Sunday would be the possibility of doing Oldham a favour.
Roughyeds were fortunate to snatch a late win in Wrexham back on March 3, so what mileage was there in busting a gut for the Roughyeds four months and ten league games later?
Nevertheless, Anthony Murray’s men got a reminder from the Oldham guys about what they could do for them when they met up on a motorway service station two and a half hours before Sunday’s matches started.
No sooner had Oldham’s players walked into Tebay Service on the M6 in Cumbria than they bumped into the Crusaders lads en route to Whitehaven and that meant a reunion with former Roughyeds like Kenny Hughes, Matty Reid and Steve Roper.
I wasn’t a party to what was said, writes ROGER HALSTEAD, but given there are no closer mates on the rugby league circuit than pals-from-boyhood Danny Langtree and Kenny Hughes you can be sure that there would be plenty of handshakes and best wishes going around for what was to happen later in the day.
I know not of what Hughes contributed to the Crusaders great win but like many other Oldham fans who made the trip to Borough Park I can truly say that ‘Langers’ had the proverbial blinder.
Interestingly, though, Roughyeds come up against Whitehaven at the Recreation Ground on July 7 and Crusaders at the Vestacare Stadium on July 14 and its true to relate that ‘Haven won’t be any keener to knock over their title rivals than will the Crusaders of Wrexham a week later.
Although four of the last eight are at home it’s going to be tough with trips to Whitehaven, Skolars, Coventry Bears and Hunslet and visits from West Wales Raiders, North Wales Crusaders, Newcastle Thunder and Doncaster.
Suffice to say that if Roughyeds play as well as they did here in each of those eight remaining league games they’ve got to have a realistic chance of finishing top and going up automatically.
There were too many scrums, break-downs and penalties for this to be a classic but in terms of honesty, desire, effort, dogged defending and sheer strength of purpose this would take some beating.
While two-try Langtree was top of the form, there were eye-catching individual shows also by Ritchie Hawkyard, new left centre Cameron Leeming, Adam Brook and Dave Hewitt in the halves, Jack Spencer, Phil Joy and Scott Law up front, and the left-edge of Danny Bridge, Leeming and Harry Maders.
There’s some genuine size and weight now on the left edge and if Leeming can play like this after only a couple of training sessions, the futue has to look good.
Roughyeds were off to a flying start when Hewitt jinked and sidestepped his way past a posse of defenders to score the opening try in the third minute and then to add the goal.
Kicking beautifully, he went on to land five goals from five attempts — four conversion and a penalty.
There followed a Town purple patch of 12 points inside two minutes and well though the home side ran and executed, with Sean Penkywitch to the fore, questions could be asked of the Oldham defence on both occasions.
It took a Langtree special, goaled by Hewitt, to put Oldham back in front and then a Hewitt penalty after 32 minutes gave the visitors a 14-10 interval lead.
Early in the second half Zack McComb’s clever break opened up the way for Langtree to go over from distance. Hewitt goaled for a 20-10 lead and things looked good.
Oldham continued to work ahead on defence but they had a scare when, with 12 minutes left, Fuifui Moimoi sent in Penkywicz with a flat pass under the posts. Doran goaled and there was only one score in it.
Roughyeds clinched the win they thoroughly deserved, however, when that man Langtree burst through a packed defence and found Hawkyard on his inside.
Two players were sin-binned early in the second half as tempers started to flare in a hot-house atmosphere.
In the 44th minute Maudling was yellow-carded for kicking and three minutes later Oldham’s Bridge followed him for dissent after objecting to a referee’s decision.
After the final hooter Oldham’s Leeming ran the ball in only to be smacked as he went down in the tackle. Players of both sides ran in and there was a flare-up which referee Stee Race put on report.
Scorers: Town — tries, Maudling, Singleton, Penkywicz; goals, Doran 2/3; Oldham — tries, Hewitt; Langtree (2), Hawkyard; goals, Hewitt 5/5.
TOWN: Fieldhouse; Mellor, Wellington, Singleton, Bolton; Doran, Penkywicz; Wilkes, O’Donnell, Moimoi, Scholey, Maudling, Dawson; Subs: Walsh, Curwen, Hopkins, Marwood.
OLDHAM: Hawkyard; Aaronson, McComb, Leeming, Maders; Brook, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Law, Bridge, Langtree, Bent. Subs: Wilkinson, Spencer, Whittel, Davies.
Referee: Steve Race Att: 1,013.