Bensons Thoughts

Date published: Tuesday, July 12, 2011

OLDHAM RL boss Tony Benson was so incensed by the lack of satisfactory pre-match facilities for Roughyeds ahead of Saturday’s 36-34 defeat by London Skolars at the Twickenham Stoop that he complained to the match commissioner John Connolly.

Problems were caused by the decision to stage a double-header at The Stoop with Harlequins taking on Wigan Warriors in a Super League clash starting at 3pm and Skolars entertaining Oldham at 5pm.

Roughyeds had to change away from the ground; their pre-match warm-up was cut short because of confusion over arrangements; and the players then had to swop training tops for match jerseys in and around their assigned dug-out after being made to prepare away from the Twickenham Stoop arena.

“Nobody really seemed to know what was going on,” said Roughyeds skipper Neil Roden. “It was all very disconcerting. We were told we couldn’t warm-up on the pitch, but Skolars did, so what was that all about? We are not using all this as an excuse for losing, but it surely wasn’t right.”

Benson, a former Skolars coach, said: “I thought we were being messed around, to be honest. It was poorly organised. We had no idea where we were supposed to be going, what we were doing and where we were warming up.

“Even after the game we had no idea where we were supposed to be. We talked about it before the game and tried to get it out of everybody’s mind. The players accepted the situation and accepted that once the whistle blew they had to concentrate fully on the game and what happened beforehand shouldn’t have an effect.

“There are no excuses. We didn’t play the game we should have done from the start and, if we had, we would have won. When we play the game we practise, it is hard for teams to stay with us. We showed that in the periods when we were scoring points pretty much at will.

“Skolars, to their credit have come a long way. They are a top-five team now, no doubt about that. They have proved it week in and week out. We were not playing a bunch of mugs. They put a good game together and they were a big, strong side too.

“They put us under a lot of pressure, particularly in the first half when we weren’t making any inroads. We were going too wide. We were not playing the game we should have been playing. We put the odd good kick in, but generally our kicks were not doing anything for us. In the second half we were a lot better once we started to play our game.

“We had to make up a big deficit, but we did that and then we were guilty of a dumb move when knocking the ball down on the fifth tackle on our line. That was the difference in the game — it came down to that knock-down. You can’t blame one person for losing, but it was an error we didn’t need at the time.

“The game was there for the taking — and on the next set we would have come away and won.”