SHEFFIELD Eagles won a tight game 32-28 at Bower Fold although Oldham dominated most of the game.
In the end each side landed four goals, but Sheffield scored six tries to Oldham’s five – it was as close as that.
After establishing a 32-12 lead in the 64th minute, Eagles didn’t score again whereas Roughyeds piled on 16 unanswered points in the last quarter of an hour before time ran out on them.
At the end they were going flat out to snatch their first win in five Championship games, but Eagles managed to hold on to pick up their first win in the league since the second round.
Roughyeds dominated most of the game in terms of possession and field position, but Sheffield had the cutting edge and the speed on counter to make the most of any chances that were presented to them, usually by home-team errors.
Roughyeds won the toss and elected to play up the slope first half – a tactic they adopted when beating both Swinton Lions and Halifax Panthers at Bower Fold earlier in the season.
Urged on by a small, but extremely vocal, home crowd, Roughyeds had the best of the early exchanges with Langtree breaking clear off Hewitt; Kirk held on the line and then stopped from going into the clear only by a desperate ankle tap; Reilly stopped from crashing over by a post; Hewitt testing the visitors’ defence with a few inside jinks; and Abram threatening off Reilly.
Nothing had been seen of Sheffield as an attacking force, but they went in front on the back of an Oldham error — a pattern that was to be a major feature of the game.
Stand-off Izaac Farrell did the initial damage and centre James Glover, who had a great game, scored the first of his two tries by using his speed up the wing to score in the corner.
Farrell failed with the touchline kick, but Eagles went out to 8-0 with their second try by winger Worrincy, who had a walk-in at the opposite corner after another Oldham attack broke down because of a misdirected pass.
Oldham continued to dominate in every aspect of the gamer bar one — scoring points — and they finally gave the scoreboard operator something to do when centre Roberts got the touchdown after Eagles full-back Ryan Johnson fumbled a Charnock high kick.
Back came Eagles though with their third try. Yet again Oldham were attacking strongly when a little kick close to the visitors’ line provided the perfect ricochet and bounce for Glover to pick up at pace and go nearly the length of the field for another Sheffield try that was against the run of play.
This time Farrell added the extras before, as the hooter for half-time sounded, a high tackle felled Declan Gregory and Abram goaled to make it 6-14 at the break.
Oldham, who didn’t deserve to be behind, needed to score first in the second half and the big comeback looked on when, after 53 minutes, a Hewitt kick saw Abram scoring under the posts. He added the goal as well and the game was in the balance at 12-14.
Most people in the game would have backed Oldham to go in front at that stage, but the restart kick wasn’t taken cleanly and on the back of that error Eagles loose-forward Aaron Bower made scoring look easy with a try which Farrell goaled for a 20-12 lead.
It was to be the start of a purple patch by the now rampant Eagles, who scored three converted tries in 15 minutes to establish a 32-12 lead.
First Thackeray sold a classic dummy to sail up the middle and send in winger Worrincy for his second try, before Oldham’s problems worsened when Danny Bridge got himself sin-binned for dissent after being penalised for a high shot.
Next, a Hewitt kick was palmed back by Roberts straight into Sheffield hands. It led to Worrincy flying up the wing to complete his hat-trick, Farrell adding the extras for a 32-12 lead.
It was difficult to comprehend that score on the overall balance of play, but 32-12 it was and it took a mighty effort from Matt’s men to get back into contention .
They kept believing in what they were doing and a Langtree threat paved the way for Gregory’s flat pass from dummy half to send in Reilly, one of Oldham’s best forwards.
Abram goaled, 32-18, and then Eagles prop Tyler Dickinson was sent off for a late and high tackle on Charnock after his kick.
In the very next Oldham attack, Gregory got Kirk over, Abram goaled and it was 32-24 with ten minutes left and Eagles a man down. Game on.
It was all Oldham now — not for the first time in this crazy game — and when Charnock, Hewitt and Abram moved the ball smartly right, winger Brierley squeezed over in the corner for a 28-32 score.
Abram couldn’t add the goal with time running out, but there was one last-gasp chance for the home side to snatch it when, on the last tackle, the ball was carried in when Bridge and Brierley were unmarked wider out.
Oldham — goals, Abram 4/6; tries, Roberts, Abram, Reilly, Kirk, Brierley;
Sheffield — goal, Farrell 4/6; tries, Glover (2), Worrincy (3), Brown.
OLDHAM: D Abram; Brierley, Bridge, Roberts, Ince; Charnock, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Kirk, Bent, Langtree, Reilly. Subs: Gregory, Fletcher, Dupree, Nelmes.
SHEFFIELD: Johnson; Worrincy. Bower, Glover, Millar; Farrell, Thackeray; Wheeldon, Burns, Dickinson, Hodgson, Davies, Brown. Subs: Davey, Broadbent, Burns, James.
Referee: Michael Mannifield; HT 6-14; Pens 8-6.
Att: 475 (restricted due to social distancing and Covid measures).