WE seriously needed a decent win against North Wales Crusaders after our loss last week at Whitehaven and we got it with a 46-30 triumph in which we scored eight tries to the Crusaders’ five.
From the Oldham angle, the first half was much better than the second but it was, nevertheless, a win which carried us back to second place in Betfred League 1, three points behind the leaders Whitehaven.
Both in backs and forwards, Oldham always had that little bit extra, but the visitors worked hard, occasionally threw the ball around with great aplomb and never once threw in the towel.
They gave Scott Naylor’s men a thorough test, especially when hitting back from 34-14 down to 34-26 in the second half, but when a left-side raid broke down and Harry Aaronson capitalised by picking up a loose ball and scampering over for the first of his two tries it was, in Wimbledon parlance, game, set and match.
It was a different story in the first quarter when Ben Stead successfully worked a run-around with Jack Houghton to put the visitors in the lead. He converted his own try
Roughyeds levelled, on the back of two penalties, when slick left-to-right passing opened up space for full-back Ritchie Hawkyard to score wide out.
Dave Hewitt landed a great goal from out near touch.
Two penalty goals by Stead kept Crusaders in the ascendancy at 10-6, but there then followed a spell of 22 unanswered Oldham points, comprising of further tries by Danny Bridge, Lee Kershaw, Hawkyard and Matty Wilkinson plus three Hewitt conversions.
Bridge’s try — manufactured by Gareth Owen’s guile from dummy half — was good enough, but the most spectacular of the four was Kershaw’s long-range cracker in which the on-loan Wakefield Trinity man had the speed and confidence to blitz David Eccleston and then Dante Morley-Samuels on the outside and score from his own 20-metre zone.
That was sheer class — a real beaut of a try with which the young Yorkshireman heralded his return to the Roughyeds in his first game back.
Hawkyard’s second try was almost a carbon-copy of his first — thanks to the swift and efficient ball movement of Wilkinson and Adam Brook — and Hewitt’s goal, the third of his seven, gave Roughyeds a 22-10 interval lead.
Hewitt cleverly fashioned the next Oldham try for Wilkinson after Danny Langtree was stopped on the line.
At 28-10 Oldham looked to have the game under lock and key, but Crusaders refused to go away and all credit to them for that.
Simon Atherton and Phil Joy traded tries before former Oldham centre Matt Reid put his winger Rob Massam in at the corner.
Three minutes later sub Declan Gregory registered the visitors’ fourth try and suddenly Crusaders were seriously challenging, only eight points down, with 17 minutes left and all the match momentum going their way.
Indeed, they were again attacking and putting Oldham under pressure when the ball went loose and Aaronson reacted quickly to snap it up and score from half way.
It took a lot of the pressure off the home side, who scored their eighth and final try when Langtree and Zack McComb sent Aaronson diving in spectacularly at the corner flag.
There was still time for Massam to score his second try after a high kick to the corner but by then it was of academic value only.
Scorers: Oldham — tries, Hawkyard (2), Bridge, Kershaw, Wilkinson, Joy, Aaronson (2); goals, Hewitt 7/8; Crusaders — tries, Stead, Atherton, Massam (2), Gregory; goals. Stead 5/7.
OLDHAM: Hawkyard; Aaronson, McComb, Leeming, Kershaw; Brook, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Spencer, Bridge, Langtree, Bent. Subs: Law, Wilkinson, Whittel, Calland.
CRUSADERS: Morley-Samuels; Eccleston, Reid, Hurst, Massam; Roper, Stead; Walker, Ashall, Brennan, Houghton, Atherton, Eckley. Subs: Gregory, A Thompson, W Thompson, C Hazzard.
Ref: Liam Staveley; Att: 6l6.