Carnegie Challenge Cup R4 – Hunslet v Oldham

Date published: Monday, April 19, 2010

HUNSLET 42 OLDHAM 12

LIKE most teams across all three divisions of the Rugby League, Roughyeds can now concentrate on the league after going out of the Carnegie Challenge Cup in the fourth round at the South Leeds Stadium.

The score did not reflect the game in which the Hawks were only one score ahead at 18-12 with only 12 minutes left to play.

A frustrated Oldham side then lost its composure to such an extent that Ben Heaton was sent to the sin-bin for the second time and Mick Fogerty was sent off on the intervention of a touchjudge, the match officials confirming afterwards that his alleged offence was one of ‘kicking an opponent’.

Down to 11 men, and already fatigued after having put in an enormous defensive stint, Roughyeds then conceded four tries in the last 11 minutes to bow out of the competition at the fourth-round stage for the first time in four years.

It means that the whole club can now focus exclusively on winning promotion from the Co-operative Championship 1 division after suffering heartbreak with defeats in the last three Grand Finals of 2007, 2008 and 2009.

In each of those years they enjoyed cup runs in either the Northern Rail Cup or the Carnegie Challenge Cup, or both, and the facts suggest that those distractions to the season’s main agenda might have impacted adversely on the promotion push.

In 2007 Harlequins knocked us out of the Challenge Cup in round five and gave us a physical battering at the same time.

In 2008 we lost at Batley in the NRC quarter-final and then lost at Wakefield in the last eight of the Challenge Cup, losing Ben Seru for the next 18 months with a knee injury and going down in the league at Gateshead three nights later due to the fixture congestion.

In 2009 Gateshead beat us at Darlington in round five of the Challenge Cup and we were beaten by Featherstone at Leigh in the quarter-final of the Northern Rail Cup. We were then three weeks without a game — haven’t we heard that before some where? — before losing three of the next four league games at York, home to Keighley and at Dewsbury.

This year there are now no such distractions and from a position of strength with five wins from the first five games played — four of them away from home — Tony Benson’s boys can now place all their eggs in the Championship 1 basket, starting with this Saturday evening’s home game against Gateshead Thunder at Sedgley Park, kick-off 7.30pm.

Over the course of the next few months the focus of the club will be fixed firmly on the exciting events surrounding the move to the Whitebank Stadium and on retaining a realistic promotion push amidst stiff competition from several rivals including those other early pace-setters Hunslet and Blackpool.

The cup defeat to the Hawks ended a run of six wins in a row, but with three of the next four league games at home we have the opportunity to consolidate our position and at the same time improve our ‘points difference’ column which is currently inferior to both the Panthers and the Hawks.

Saturday evening’s game against Gateshead at Sedgley is followed by Doncaster away on Bank Holiday Monday, May 3; York at home on Sunday, May 9 (the game provisionally earmarked for the first at Whitebank); and London Skolars at home on Sunday, May 16.

In the first half at Hunslet in the cup we conceded too many penalties and made too many errors in possession, this giving Hawks most of the ball and most of the good field position.

Tries by David March and Michael Mark gave the home side a 10-0 lead before Roughyeds went close for the first time when Danny Whitmore was halted on the line after a determined break from dummy half.

Heaton and David March were then sin-binned following a fracas near the Oldham line, play resuming with a penalty to Hunslet — one of eight conceded by Roughyeds in the first half alone.

Several of these were for alleged ball-stealing in the tackle, always a contentious ruling when match officials have to decide instantly whether there is a ‘steal’ or a ‘loose carry’.

Roughyeds were defending constantly throughout the first half and it was of little surprise when they conceded again just before the interval when Neil Lowe crashed over with Richard Knight improving for a 16-0 interval lead.

The visitors resumed with more errors early in their sets, but they were inspired by a powerful midfield drive from Wayne Kerr. Neil Roden’s kick to the corner bounced high over the line and Paul O’Connor knocked it back for Mark Brocklehurst to get the touchdown. Matty Ashe landed a fine goal on the angle.

Four more penalties in a row to the Hawks led to a penalty goal by Wayne McHugh to push the home side out to 18-6, but Oldham came roaring back again against all odds. Another Neil Roden chip close to the line rebounded off a defender and O’Connor swooped at speed to go behind the posts for Ashe to land an easy conversion.

At 18-12 Oldham were now back in serious contention — and the Hawks knew it. In a niggly game which was not always played in the best of spirits, Lucas Onyango felt he had cause to complain to the referee about alleged comments made by an opponent.

Next, Heaton was shown the yellow card for the second time after a late challenge on David March following the Hunslet player’s failed attempt at a drop goal.

McHugh kicked the resultant penalty to take the immediate pressure off the home side, but Oldham then ran offside at the restart kick to put themselves under more pressure, not for the first time in this game.

The Fogerty red-card incident quickly followed and as Oldham now had only 11 men on board the game was up.

A long pass to the left wing gave Mark a walk-in at the corner; Knight goaled off the touchline; and to rub salt into Oldham’s wounds the restart kick sailed into touch on the full.

Chapman, McHugh and Knight then scored further tries for Hunslet, who will now go to Barrow in round five while Roughyeds will focus all their energies on the season’s priority — success in the league.

Scorers: Hunslet — goals, Knight (5), McHugh (2); tries, D March, Mark (2), Lowe, Chapman, McHugh, Knight; Oldham — goals, Ashe (2); tries, Brocklehurst, O’Connor.

Hunslet: Kain; Pryce, Oakes, McHugh, Mark; D March, P March; Sullivan, Chapman, Houston, Dooler, Knight, Haughley. Subs: Woodcock, Haigh, Lowe, Wabo.

Oldham: O’Connor; Onyango, St Hilaire, Fogerty, Brocklehurst; N Roden, Ashe; Boults, M Roden, Ellison, Robinson, Chandler, Clarke. Subs: Kerr, Whitmore, Heaton, I’Anson.

Referee: Mr C Halloran (Batley); Att: 509.