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Nearly two months now to prepare for league action



OUR interest in the 2022 Betfred Challenge Cup is over, beaten 22-12 by Lock Lane, but we have nearly two months now in which to get ready for the start of the Betfred League One season when Keighley Cougars come to the Vestacare Stadium on March 27.

On a bitterly cold night when driving sleet made handling and ball movement hazardous, to say the least, conditions were a great leveller.

Moreover, it was the sort of stormy winter’s night which was the last thing Roughyeds wanted when only four of the 17 players on duty were here last season.

By contrast, the lads from Lock Lane had been playing together for a long time, and that was to make a huge difference.

Having said all that, they played the conditions better than Roughyeds, deserved their historic win, and tackled magnificently from start to finish.

In a tie which was twice interrupted by floodlight failure, they opened the scoring with a Nathan Fozzard try as early as the 14th minute and added another by full-back Lewis Price, on man-of-the-match Fozzard’s inside ball near the line, four minutes later.

Roughyeds were always chasing the game after that and in these truly dreadful weather conditions that’s the last thing any side would want when faced with very determined and committed defenders, let alone one which, one friendly aside, contained 13 debutants in a panel of 17.

The side that got points on the board first would always be in the driving seat and when Fozzard’s high, towering kick into the sleet-filled night sky got the better of Owen Restall, the Lock Lane stand-off pounced for the opening try.

He couldn’t add the goal but he struck again soon afterwards with an inside ball that caught out our defence and saw Lewis Price sailing in for a try which Fozzard goaled for a 10-0 lead.

We got back into the game with a Hewitt-inspired Jason Muranka try, goaled by Martyn Ridyard, early in the second half. Martyn Ridyard goaled.

We looked to be getting on top at that stage, especially when Ridyard and Will Cooke combined to send right-wing Tommy Brierley flying in at the corner, only to lose his grip on the cold and slippy ball when, unopposed, he was touching down.

A try then would have put us level with the kick to come, but it was disallowed and the harder we tried to make amends the more errors we made and the clock was all the while ticking.

The visitors could smell an upset when Danny Holmes went in for a third try and Fozzard converted, but on 67 minutes Hewitt saw a gap and went solo for the line and Ridyard’s goal opened it up again at 12-16.

It was typical of our ill-fortune that, in the closing minutes, the ball ran away from Hewitt agonisingly and went dead when a try under the posts looked on.

Two penalties to Lock Lane put them back on the offensive and in the very last minute Chris Sibbons, the Lock Lane captain, crashed in to seal a memorable victory.

We’ve now got eight weeks — and no doubt the odd friendly or two — to put this behind us, mark it down as one of those nights and get ready for Betfred League One.

Scorers — Oldham: goals, Ridyard 2/2; tries, Muranka (45), Hewitt (67); Lock Lane: goals, Fozzard 3/4; tries, Fozzard, Price, Holmes, Siddons.

OLDHAM: Restall; Brierley, Cooke, Wellington, Holcroft; Ridyard, Hewitt; Nelmes, Wright, Spencer, Muranka, Ferry, Whittel. Subs: Slater, Andrade, Thornton, Coventry.

LOCK LANE: Price; Bloomer, Duncan, Newbould, Moon; Fozzard, Butler; J Cranswick, Savage, Siddons, Herczeg, Holmes, Maskill. Subs: Punchard, Robinson, Mawson, Smith.

Referee: B Milligan; HT: 0-10; Pens: 9-4.

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