SECOND in the division with the second best attacking record and the second best for-and-against stats, Roughyeds know they need to win promotion to avoid being remembered as the 2019 Nearly Men.
They moved a step nearer achieving that ‘going up’ feeling with a comprehensive 50-6 win against Coventry Bears in Rugby, recording their eighth win in nine and looking all the world like a side that, at the very least, deserves to be in a play-off final.
They are, after all, the only team to have won as many games as leaders Whitehaven and they’ve beaten the Cumbrians twice at home (league and 1895 Cup) while going under by six points only at the Recreation Ground.
“With five to go we targeted five wins and we’ve now ticked four boxes with one to go — the really big one,”
said club captain Gareth Owen.
That’s Hunslet away next Sunday when a ninth win in ten would guarantee Scott Naylor’s men a second-place finish with all the advantages that brings in the play-offs.
Here, Naylor ‘rested’ one or two players who were carrying knocks or aches and pains, like Ritchie Hawkyard, Zack McComb, Danny Bridge and Ed Smith, not to mention half-back David Hewitt, yet Roughyeds still looked strong enough and good enough to maintain the momentum the club has built up over the last two and a half months.
Jack Spencer and Ben Davies were back in the forwards, Spencer looking his usual self after a lay-off with back trouble and Davies enjoying his best performance for a long time.
Spencer was to reveal afterwards that he still wasn’t 100 per cent fit after a shoulder problem, but he expected to benefit from the run-out.
Emmerson Whittel played second-row in place of Bridge and gave an excellent performance that was full of industry, vim and vigour.
Similarly, Adam Brook went in at half-back and looked as though he had never been away.
On-loan Declan Kay had another good game on the right wing and the side as a whole looked strong enough to continue moving forward while bearing in mind that Coventry won’t the hardest side to be faced between now and the end of the season.
Overall star of the show, yet again, was two-try Danny Langtree, who also set up two more and played equally well as right-side second-rower in the first half and right-centre in the second half when replacing the injured Cameron Leeming.
Leeming’s hamstring injury was the only blot on an otherwise sound and professional performance, but Oldham fans will be pleased to hear that it isn’t a tear and that both player and medical staff are hopeful that he might be okay by next weekend.
Gareth Owen and Phil Joy were prominent in the build-up to the first try by Liam Bent.
Langtree crossed for the second after more good work by Owen and then Brook scored a third try after selling a big dummy while raiding in the line down the left side.
The fourth try came just before half-time when Langtree unleased Kay on the right with a wide pass and centre Jack Holmes popped up on the inside to take the winger’s inside ball and go over.
Paul Crook converted all four for a 24-0 lead at half-time.
Roughyeds continued where they left off before the break with a try in the corner by Kyran Johnson after an absolute gem of a pass by Brook, who somehow provided an accurate and speedy delivery round his back.
Kay went over next on the opposite wing after a break from half way by his new centre ‘Langers’ and then it was the forwards’ turn to share the limelight when Joy went in by the posts after more good handling by Brook.
The eighth try went to Langtree, who was almost unstoppable in the right channel, before Davies crowned a sound show with try number nine after constantly showing up well in the go-forward.
Crook landed three of the five second-half conversions to finish with seven from nine overall.
Scorers: Coventry – try, Jones, goal, Hall (72 mins); Oldham – tries, Bent, Langtree (2), Brook, Holmes, Johnson, Kay, Joy, Davies; goals, Crook 7/9.
Team: Hooley; Kay, Holmes, Leeming, Johnson; Crook, Brook; Joy, Owen, Law, Whittel, Langtree, Bent. Subs: Beckett, Greenwood, Spencer, Davies.
Referee: Liam Staveley.