Benson praised players

Date published: Monday, July 2, 2012

THOUGH ‘devastated’ by another loss, Oldham RL boss Tony Benson praised his players for their commitment in a 42-20 defeat at Whitehaven.

In a new-look side, Rob Foxen made his debut on the right wing; David Cookson was in as the new man’s centre after several weeks in the reserves; Jamie Dallimore was back after suspension at half-back; and Liam Gilchrist replaced Lewis Reed in the front-row.

Said Benson: “Our performance was a massive improvement all round.

“We never rolled over, we kept coming back at them and for most of the game we probably had the upper hand.

“Everyone put his hand up and everyone had a good game.”

Mathematically the Roughyeds could still go up, but as they are now two places and nine points outside the top four, the prospects of promotion look exceedingly slim if not already beyond a side that hasn’t won a league game since April 1.

Disappointed skipper Neil Roden missed most of those games because of injury, but returned in a narrow defeat at North Wales Crusaders and then figured in further losses against Rochdale and Whitehaven.

He said: “It’s no real surprise for anyone to lose at Whitehaven. I think I’ve only won here once in all my career.

“The mood in the camp was excellent. It felt really good before the game, and I like to think we performed much better than we did against Rochdale.

“If we’ve missed out on promotion it wasn’t because we lost at Whitehaven; it was because we lost against other teams, North Wales as an example.

“We had a winning try disallowed in the last minute for a forward pass. Had we won that game I’m convinced we would have gone on and beaten Rochdale and that would have been another six points in the bag irrespective of what happened here at the Recreation Ground.”

Paul Noone got through the game, but was again troubled by the ankle he damaged at London Skolars in April.

Alex Thompson, who scored the second of four Oldham tries just before half-time, was sick and dizzy during the interval and soon afterwards took a severe knock to the head when he collided with team mate Michael Ward when both combined to pull off a try-saving tackle.

AFTER hitting rock bottom against Rochdale seven days earlier, the beleaguered Roughyeds produced one of their best displays in weeks to give Whitehaven a game at the Recreation Ground.

The score flattered the Cumbrians, for whom the vision and creativity of stand-off Jamie Rooney gave them the edge in a contest that was more competitive than 42-20 would indicate.

Said Oldham boss Tony Benson: “Three first-half kicks from Rooney led directly to three tries . . . that was the difference.

“In the first half they only got into our 20-metre red zone four times, but they came up with four tries.

“Our intensity was better; our willingness to graft and battle was a big improvement; and we kept fighting all the time, from start to finish. We also stuck to what we had said we would do.

“There isn’t a lot you can do to counter kicks of Rooney’s quality, and there wasn’t much we could do about the fourth Whitehaven try when Parker got on the outside of Neil Roden.

“But in general terms we were a different side altogether to the one that played Rochdale. We fought a lot harder; we played as a team; and we put them under a lot of pressure.

“We scored some good tries and we also had opportunities to score more.

“I thought the referee had a very good game, but there was a crucial incident which went against us in the second half when the game was still in the balance.

“We were attacking strongly when one of their guys flew out of their defensive line and tried to intercept Michael Ward’s inside pass. He knocked on, but the scrum went to them because the pass was deemed to be forward before the ‘Haven man got his hand to it.

“That’s the sort of thing that is going against us — and there was another on the last play of the game when Calvert kicked speculatively on tackle one and a couple of lucky rebounds later he was touching down for their seventh try.

“We didn’t deserve to be on the wrong end of a scoreline like that.

“Dave Cookson had his best game yet in the first team; Rob Foxen had a terrific debut on the right wing; and to be honest I thought everyone played well and everyone gave all they had to give.

“At half-back Neil Roden’s lines of attack were more direct and Jamie Dallimore added a lot on his return to the side because he was dangerous every time he had the ball.”

‘Haven coach Don Gailer said: “I’m proud of my boys because they had to dig deep to beat a good Oldham side.

“They came at us under the radar a bit with talk of an injury-hit squad, but in fact they delivered a very good side and a very experienced one. I don’t think they could have been much stronger.

“Clough took them forward well from dummy half, and they needed some handling, especially the big guy on the wing (Foxen) who was so strong he was like an extra prop forward.”