ROUGHYEDS suffered another difficult day at the office when beaten 40-6 at Newcastle Thunder, who scored seven tries — five of them by their classy backs.
Official man of the match was Thunder’s on-loan centre Sam Halsall, from Wigan, but it was difficult to look beyond the home side’s exciting half-back Josh Woods as the man who inflicted most of the damage on Matt’s men.
Woods, also recruited from Wigan, had an absolute blinder in which he was at the heart of everything Thunder did.
He scored a try, converted six tries from seven shots, fashioned three tries for colleagues and generally proved himself a class act and the dominant partner in a clever pairing with yet another recruit from Wigan in Jake Shorrocks.
There were a couple of surprises in the Oldham side that took the field in bright sunshine minus club captain Gareth Owen and powerful young forward Tyler Dupree.
- D Abram; Brierley, Heaton, Roberts, Ince; Charnock, Barran; Joy, Gregory, Kirk, Langtree, Bent, Reilly. Subs: Pick, J Abram, Fletcher, Nelmes.
- Turner; Clegg, Wright, Halsall, Johnson; Shorrocks, Woods; Wilde, Beswick, T Chapelhow, Bailey, Ta’ai, McAvoy. Subs: Simons, J Chapelhow, Clarke, Harrison.
In the interests of fair play, perspective and the likelihood that many people will still regard Thunder as a sort of development club in an underdeveloped (in rugby league terms, that is) part of the country, it should be pointed out that their 17 on duty here could claim 376 Super League appearances between them, compared with Oldham’s 24.
And you only needed to look at the number of young kids who were there in the hour or two before kick-off doing organised drills with rugby balls to see that something exciting is stirring in the once exclusively soccer-mad North-East.
Back to the Thunder first team and Kieran Gill, no less, couldn’t even get into the side — that’s how far Thunder have come since we beat them in the 2019 Promotion Final.
Oldham hardly deserved to be 12-0 down at half-time, given that Thunder’s second try was a dubious affair in which Tommy Brierley seemed sure he had bundled his opposite winger Jack Johnson into touch-in-goal after the former Warrington man had collected one of several deadly-accurate cross kicks by Woods.
Brierley’s enthusiasm for what he had achieved against the odds quickly turned to anguish as the try was allowed, much to the amazement of the 1,000-plus fans who were there to see it.
At 12-0, there was still a glimmer of hope that Roughyeds could pull it back if they could score first, but it wasn’t to be as Thunder put the game to bed with four tries in ten minutes — or four in consecutive sets if you prefer it that way – early in the second piece.
Big Tongan international forward Ukamu Ta’ai, who alone had 181 Super League games with Huddersfield Giants on his CV, crashed over from close range on a Woods delivery to set Thunder in motion.
Centre Halsall scored next when rising high above Dan Abramto collect yet another superb kick from Woods. A pity for Abram this because he and Brierley, in particular had cleanly collected teasing, tormenting kicks all afternoon.
Ta’ai had offered little threat in the first half, but such was the difference when he came out for the second stanza that one wonders whether he had been told at the interval to up his game if he wanted to keep his place.
It was his explosive left-channel drive and break that provided a try for Bob Beswick before shell-shocked Roughyeds conceded again when Shorrocks went in. Woods made it six out of six with his conversions for a 36-0 lead and Roughyeds could hardly feel aggrieved, given that once again they had surrendered so much ball and so much field position with poor handling and decision-making.
Near the end, the lively Dec Gregory, again one of Oldham’s better, more energetic players, found the time and space to send Liam Kirk in for our only try of the game, but Thunder had the last hoorah when Woods crossed for the try he certainly deserved,
- Goals: Woods 6/7.
- Tries: Johnson (2), Ta’ai, Halsall, Beswck, Shorrocks, Woods
- Goals: Abram 1/1.
- Try: Kirk.
Ref: A Moore.