HEAD coach Matt Diskin was more than satisfied with Oldham’s six-try show against a good St Helens Select side at the Vestacare Stadium on Saturday night, but he was also quick to point out: “There’s still a lot of room for improvement.”
He has two weeks now in which to prepare his squad for the opening Betfred Championship game against Tim Sheens’s Widnes Vikings at Bower Fold, Stalybridge on Sunday, February 2, kick-off 3pm.
The new Roughyeds boss has steered his small squad to two pre-season wins out of three, winning 22-18 at Barrow Raiders and beating a young, but talented, Saints squad 32-12 at the Vestacare Stadium, but going down 18-12 at Rochdale in the traditional Law Cup fixture.
He has insisted all through, however, that the object of these three games was to get his new squad familiar with new structures, new systems and a new style of rugby to that which Roughyeds have been playing for the last seven years.
That was never more evident than in Saturday’s comprehensive win against Saints when Roughyeds stuck to an expansive policy from start to finish, led 10-6 at half-time and then came from behind to blow Saints apart with four tries in the last few minutes.
“We knew they would have real pace and quick hands. They tested our edge defence but we generally handled them well.
“We played good expansive rugby and scored some great tries, but there were times in the game when our execution wasn’t too clever and there’s certainly a lot of room for improvement on the things we are working on in training.
“When we were good with ball in hand we split them open out wide.
“The James Worthington try was a beaut and it was good to see him running such a perfect line because that’s something else we’ve been working on.
“James has the potential to be a centre who is very hard to defend against.
“Matty Fletcher also deserves a plaudit. He had only trained with us a couple of times before the game. He came off the bench and we didn’t intend to give him as many minutes as he got but we changed our minds because he was going so well.
“He ran hard, tackled hard and his footwork is going to be a big plus for us in the middle channels.”
Of the five players who didn’t figure on Saturday –Jode Sheriffe, Ben Davies, John Hutchings, Jack Spencer and Cameron Leeming — two will definitely miss the opening league game (Sheriffe and Davies), Hutchings is doubtful but prop Spencer and centre Leeming are expected to be fit.