SCOTT Naylor was understandably delighted by his side’s rousing performance in the 22-12 win over Doncaster that takes Roughyeds straight through to the Promotion Final at the Vestacare Stadium on October 6.
Describing it as “probably the best of the season”, he said the players should be proud of themselves, not only for what they produced in this play-off but for the consistency they have shown in winning ten of their last 11 games.
Said a very happy boss, who has set his heart on leading Roughyeds to promotion before leaving after seven years in charge: “It was a great performance, probably as near as we could get to the complete play-off performance without getting full marks.
“Defensively, we were top class. A particularly pleasing factor was that we did the little things right; the one per-cent things that make all the difference.
“In this type of game you’ve got to do all the right things, remain patient and hope you get some points on the board.
“We did all that, and more. Doncaster are a good, strong side. They finished the season with the second best defensive record and then they went up to Newcastle in the play-offs and ‘nilled’ them until two minutes from the end, while scoring 20 points themselves.
“I always knew that if we played well — as we can play — we would be there or thereabouts. We played really well didn’t we?
“We completed high; tackled magnificently; took our chances.
“It wasn’t quite the complete performance because we gave away too many yardage penalties at one stage. That was something we had to fix up at half-time.
“Having said that, our defence was so good that we were generally able to cope.
“Three months ago Doncaster would have scored more points on the back of those penalties, but we’ve come a long way since then and we seem to have timed our coming of age to perfection.
“That isn’t to say there is no room for improvement. There is and we’ll be working on it.
“I’m just made up for the lads. They’re excited about appearing in a final and they certainly deserve to be there.
“They’re already talking about it. It’s good for the club too.”
Chairman Chris Hamilton described the game as one in which Oldham produced “a fabulous, fabulous performance.”
“Doncaster hardly ever got into our half. Our defence was awesome. Our tackling was phenomenal. It was a massive performance from 1 to 17.
“Until the last minute the only try Doncaster scored was from a kick and I definitely thought we were more dominant than the score would indicate.”
Man of the match Danny Bridge said:
“We knew they would try and match us up the middle, so we were ready for that.
“Until the last minute they only broke us down with a kick so we were really happy about that.
“We’ll rest up a bit now and get ready to go again on October 6.”
Said veteran stand-off Paul Crook, who scored 14 points with a try and five goals:
“We’ve been building gradually over the last few weeks and we seem to have timed it right, although we’ve still a final to win so we mustn’t get carried away.”
A member of the coaching panel, Crook added:
“If we play as well as we can we can beat anyone in this division.
“We’ve a few young lads in the team and it took us quite a bit of time earlier on to get things right, but we seem to be getting there.”
The only disappointment on an otherwise fabulous day for players, coaches and club was the desperately disappointing size of the crowd — a mere 529, one of the poorest of the season.
Chairman Chris Hamilton described it as a “kick in the teeth” for the club, for himself, for the players, for many who work tirelessly behind the scenes and for the loyal 500 who did make the effort — and always do.
“I don’t know what else we can do. We’ve just won 10 games out of 11 and we were in a semi-final, going for promotion.”