FOR the second game in a row we were 18-0 down after ten minutes.
The big difference between the very poor performance at Widnes in the Coral Challenge Cup and in this 26-12 Betfred Championship defeat by Bradford Bulls at Bower Fold was that, in this one, the players were not intimidated by their early deficit and bounced back to look the stronger side in the second half.
Bulls scored only one more try after that early blitz and their only points in the second half came from a penalty goal by Rowan Milnes.
Indeed, if you conveniently delete the first ten minutes of this hard-fought contest, the score across the remaining 70 minutes was Oldham 12, Bradford 8.
Bulls started like an express train and it appeared that their game plan was to blast the home side wide open as quickly as possible and take the game away from them before they had chance to feel comfortable.
They pinned Oldham in their own half, forced errors and then demonstrated an ability to score from short range against a defence that looked vulnerable and decidedly dodgy in goal-line defence.
in the first few minutes Roughyeds were shell-shocked. They didn’t seem to know what had hit them as first Sam Hallas and then Steve Crossley crashed over on the back of mistakes by Lee Kershaw and Dan Abram.
When Brandon Pickersgill made it three Bradford tries with the contrasting style of nifty footwork, swerve and sidestep — all within ten minutes – we feared the worst.
Joe Cator, on dual reg from Hull, made it 24-0 before half-time, but what a turnaround after that!
Like Bulls in the first half, Oldham were far more threatening when attacking the town end of the ground down the very slight slope and on a pitch that was in remarkably good condition after the recent bad weather.
It was their turn to dominate the arm wrestle now and to keep the Bulls, for the most part, pinned in their own half for long periods.
They were rewarded when livewire Matty Wilkinson, who was starting to cause problems for them, burst away from dummy half and sent in Danny Bridge for the first of his two tries.
Bulls went short from the restart kick, got a penalty and took the two, but Oldham were soon in again when man-of-the-match Bridge followed a Hewitt chip to score his second, 12-26, and that was the last of the scoring.
Roughyeds looked like they might score again when Pickersgill dropped a Lewis Charnock bomb under the posts, but Bradford’s solid defence held fast.
In the last couple of minutes Danny Langtree and Joe Cator were both sin-binned following a skirmish off the ball.
Scorers: Oldham — goals, Abram 2/2; tries Bridge (2); Bulls — goals, Milnes 5/5; tries, Hallas, Crossley, Pickersgill, Cator.
OLDHAM: Abram; Ince, Croft, Leeming, Kershaw; Charnock, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Beckett, Bridge, Langtree, Spencer. Subs: Wilkinson, Fletcher, Davies, Gwaze.
BRADFORD: Pickersgill; Joe Brown, Evans, Oakes, Dawson; Milnes, Lilley; England, Hallas, Crossley, Waite-Pullan, Gallagher, Cator. Subs: Flanagan, Scurr, Jack Brown, Nzoungou.
Referee: Cameron Worsley; Att: 1,189.