WE suffered a hefty Coral Challenge Cup defeat at Widnes Vikings, who scored nine tries in a 52-12 win after leading 30-6 at half-time.
The tie was effectively over after quarter of an hour, by which time the home side led 24-0.
Collectively and individually, the Roughyeds’ tackling, general defensive work and desire to stand tall and proud in defence was disappointing, to say the least.
The one consolation, as coach Matt Diskin pointed out afterwards, was that this poor performance came in the Challenge Cup and not in the Betfred Championship which has to be our priority this year.
Matt and his squad will be working overtime this week in a bid to put things right in the Championship clash with Bradford Bulls at Bower Fold on Sunday (March 1), kick-off 3pm.
In the cup-tie he wasn’t able to consider the claims of dual-reg centre Jack Croft or on-loan forwards Jimmy Beckett and Titus Gwaze because they would have been cup-tied and ineligible for their parent clubs if required in the later stages of the competition.
James Worthington was again left out because of a groin injury and Adam Brook got his first start so far this season at scrum-half with Dave Hewitt on the bench.
John Hutchings played his first competitive game of the year at centre, as did prop Ben Davies off the bench, both after long-term injuries.
Davies replaced Phil Joy midway through the first half and, like Joy, led from the front, but he suffered a recurrence of his long-standing back complaint and didn’t re-emerge for the second half.
Danny Bridge suffered head and neck injuries in the first few minutes but he was back after quarter of an hour in the dressing room, seemingly none the worse for his mishap.
The same couldn’t be said of hard-working substitute forward Matthew Fletcher, who damaged a shoulder early in the second half and went off in considerable pain, never to return.
Roughyeds were on the back foot for most of the game and were 30-0 down before they enjoyed a rare bit of momentum with back-to-back sets in the run-up to half-time.
Oldham’s only penalty of the first half led to clever kicks by half-backs Brook and Lewis Charnock, which each earned a drop-out and ultimately produced a try for Dan Abram which he also converted from right of the posts.
The second half began like the first — with a try to Widnes within a couple of minutes.
Oldham weren’t in the mood to offer decent resistance and thanks to a succession of one-on-one missed tackles the Vikings were able to continue their plundering.
Hewitt replaced Hutchings early in the second half with the No 7 taking up his normal spot at half-back; Brook going out on the left wing; and Kyran Johnson taking up the right-centre slot vacated by Hutchings.
Oldham seemed to have more ball in the second half than they had in the first half when Widnes’s vice-like grip on the game saw them with most of the possession and most of the field position.
Without ever posing Widnes with serious threats, Oldham looked better in the second half even though Davies and Fletcher were injured and out of the firing line.
Full marks to Joy for battling away up front and continuing to make the hard yards in the later stages, but how ironic that half-back Brook should get a couple of running chances while out of position on the left wing and had opportunities which the quicker Johnson never enjoyed before he was relocated at right centre.
Oldham’s second try came right on the final hooter when Widnes made a rare mistake in possession, the ball went loose and Danny Langtree picked up to race away and score an opportunist try which which Abram again converted.
Lewis Charnock, Phil Joy, Danny Bridge and Matty Wilkinson were Oldham’s best, but the team as a unit will have to play considerably better than this, particularly in defence, if they’re to get anything from Sunday’s key clash with Bradford Bulls at Bower Fold (3pm kick-off).
Widnes — goals, Owens 8/9; tries: Roby, Cross, Wilde (2), Craven, Baker, Johnson (2), Edge;
Oldham — goals, Abram 2/2; tries, Abram, Langtree.
WIDNES: Owens, J Johnson, Roby, Edge, Cross; Craven, Smith; T Chapelhow, Tomkins, Moran, Wilde, Grady, Baker. Subs: Lyons, Dwyer, Leuluai, Farnwoth.
OLDHAM: Abram, Kay, Hutchings, Leeming, K Johnson; Charnock, Brook; Joy,Owen, Spencer, Langtree, Bridge, Bent; Subs: Wilkinson, Davies, Fletcher, Hewitt.
Referee: Gareth Hewer; Att: 1,564; Penalties: 5-5