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Top-drawer Oldham win a thriller to go second

CLASSY Oldham excelled on attack and defence in the second half to beat Newcastle Thunder 28-20 and to hit second place in Betfred League 1 with three to play.

It was a second-half masterclass by the revved-up Roughyeds who were 20-6 down after half an hour, got back in the game to trail 20-12 at half-time and then thrilled their fans with their best 40 minutes of the season.

Thunder didn’t get a look-in after half-time, failing to score while the home side rattled up 16 points, which made it 22 unanswered points in total from the moment Danny Bridge scored the first of his two tries, goaled by Paul Crook, three minutes before half-time.

Little did we know then what an impact that try would make, not only putting the jitters up Newcastle but providing the inspiration for Roughyeds to step up a couple of gears and go for the jugular.

“We were upbeat at half-time. An eight-point deficit didn’t faze us in the slightest. We were revved-up and we felt that if we could score first in the second half we’d be on our way,” said club captain Gareth Owen.

Thunder were 12 points up inside quarter of an hour with tries by Quentin Laulu-Togagae and Conor Fitzsimmons, both goaled by Rhys Clarke.

Kyran Johnson pulled back a try for Roughyeds which Paul Crook converted superbly from the left touchline.

Thunder’s replay was quick and ruthless, first Kieran Gill intercepting a wide ball from Paul Crook to go the length of the field (shades of what he used to do in his Oldham days) and then, within ten minutes, left-wing Alex Clegg crossing in the corner after more damage created by QLT and Gill.

Losing 20-6 at that stage, things didn’t look good for Roughyeds but on reflection it wasn’t the sort of game that you thought was beyond rescue.

Oldham’s middle unit had, at the very least, matched Thunder’s big men up front and considering the score they had spent very little time camped out in Roughyeds territory.

Scott Naylor’s men edged the territorial battle, in fact, and probably spent more time at Thunder’s end of the field than did Thunder at the Roughyeds end.

The visitors dominated the scoring, but little else.

Two of their four first-half tries were the direct result of uncharacteristic one-on-one missed tackles deep inside the Oldham half and another was Gill’s length-of-the-field interception which again turned defence into attack for the visitors.

Credit them with the pace and the polish to capitalise on errors and go the full distance — like London in the previous game — but they didn’t dominate Oldham’s forwards or, indeed, the battle for territorial supremacy. They also had first use of a strong wind.

Nevertheless, trailing by 14 points, Oldham knew a try before half-time would be worth its weight in gold.

Earlier, Matty Wilkinson had chipped to the corner and Johnson flew up the wing to get the touchdown, Paul Crook then converting brilliantly off the touchline.

Wilkinson, who was at the heart of everything Oldham did well on attack, then produced a similar grubber in the 38th minute. It ricocheted off a defender’s leg and into the path of the onrushing Bridge, who picked up at full speed to go over.

Crook goaled; 12-20; wind advantage to come; game on.

In Oldham’s first set from the restart there was a sample of what was to come.

Zack McComb got round his marker on the outside — how often do we see an outside break from a centre these days — only to fall to a desperate ankle tap as he looked like motoring clear.

Then Wilkinson put Emmerson Whittel away only to be hauled back for a forward pass.

You could sense that Oldham now had the measure of their second-placed opponents and sure enough they scored a brilliant try when Wilkinson went wide to Johnson, who put the ball back inside for Cameron Leeming to crash over.

Crook’s conversion passed narrowly wide but at 16-20 Oldham were on top and looking like a side that should have been on top of the league.

Under the force of Oldham’s bombardment, Thunder conceded back-to-back penalties and the inevitable happened when Dave Hewitt took on the defence to provide the barnstorming Bridge with his second try.

Crook goaled to put Roughyeds in front for the first time at 22-20 with an hour gone.

As they pressed forward for more, Liam Bent went close to breaking clear up the middle and then Hewitt made inroads to create a fifth try, this one scored by Owen, who had replaced Wilkinson off the bench a minute or two earlier.

Crook added the goal for a 28-20 lead and with the clock running down Oldham then had some serious defending to do on their own line; a task they performed with great tenacity and endeavour.

The thrill-a-minute clash ended with Thunder prop Joel Edwards held on the line and, further out, Johnson pulling off a low and hard textbook tackle to push Samoan winger Misi Taulapapa into touch at the corner flag.

Bridge had a blinder, as did Wilkinson and Ritchie Hawkyard. Not far behind were Danny Langtree, who had a strong second half, Hewitt, Phil Joy, Scott Law and Emmerson Whittel on a huge day for Roughyeds and their promotion aspirations.

Oldham scorers: goals, Crook 4/5; tries, Johnson, Bridge (2), Leeming, Owen.

Team: _Hawkyard, Aaronson, McComb, Leeming, Johnson; Crook, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Law, Bridge, Langtree, Bent; Subs: Smith, Wilkinson, Whitttel, Beckett.
_
Referee: Matt Rossleigh; att: 702



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AS lockdown restrictions start to ease, now is the time for everyone connected with Oldham RLFC to do all they can to help with getting income from our Club Cash lottery back to where it was before the pandemic started to bite.

This is vital for the club and its finances which, as you all know, have taken a massive hit in the past 12 months.

Collectors will be returning to door-to-door visits in the next few weeks and we hope people who suspended payments will pick up where they left off as we strive and work hard to get back to where we were before the pandemic caused us to lose 50 per cent of our lottery income.

Many of our regular punters, who would normally pay a collector, have answered our calls for help by finding other ways to pay and to retain their chances of winning prizes.

To those people we are very grateful and we would like to take this opportunity to thank them once again for their loyal and continued support.

The lottery, of course, is potentially one of our biggest fund-raisers and for as little as £1 a week — more if you wish — you can help the club immensely and at the same time have chances to win £1,000, £100, £50, £25 or one of ten consolation prizes of £10.

That’s the present prize structure. There’s every chance it will be increased once we are out of lockdown, door-to-door collections start again and we get back to some sort of normality.

In the meantime you can join, or start up again, by contacting the club on 07904 898177 or by email to: enquiries@roughyeds.co.uk

For more information about the lottery, and for the “great opportunities” provided by our partnership with the National Youth and Community Development Association (NYCDA) go our Club Cash page.

There, you will find all the results and a detailed statement about getting back to normal with the help of our not-for-profit partners.

All proceeds from the partnership will continue to support the club and help us to meet the aims of our Club Cash activities, particularly in its aims and objectives to be an active stakeholder in the local community.

Download Application Form

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