Gateshead Thunder 10 Oldham Roughyeds 68

Date published: Monday, July 5, 2010

ROUGHYEDS strolled to victory on the banks of the Tyne where they posted 12 tries in a 68-10 win against Gateshead Thunder to keep up the pressure on leaders Hunslet Hawks at the top of Co-operative Championship One.

The score was remarkably similar to the 64-10 win against Thunder at Sedgley Park in April when Tony Benson’s boys also ran in a delightful dozen against their opponents from the North-East.

Back then winger John Gillam was in the spotlight with four tries, but in the return game at the Gateshead International Stadium that distinction went to his centre Mick Fogerty, who completed his first hat-trick of the season to take his total to 17 and go level with Lucas Onyango at the top of the club’s try-scoring chart.

Paul O’Connor led out the team on the occasion of his 100th game for Roughyeds in cup and league and, in typical fashion, put on another exciting display crowned by his two tries, one in each half.

Danny Whitmore also crossed twice in an eye-catching performance as replacement hooker and other tries were scored by Onyango, Chris Clarke, Ben Heaton, Wayne Kerr and Dave Ellison.

It was appropriate that props Kerr and Ellison got on the scoresheet because both came up with huge performances that terrorised the home pack, Kerr especially in his second spell and Ellison with his ability to make the half break and then get the ball away to close support.

Some players coped better than others with the challenge of finding top form in the first game back after a three-week break.

Stand-out performers on this occasion were full-back O’Connor; Onyango, Marcus St Hilaire and Fogerty in the backs; Matty Ashe and Greg McNally at half-back; and Kerr, Ellison and Whitmore in the forwards.

Fogerty’s finishing was lethal out wide. He was arguably the main beneficiary of Ellison’s clever offloading and the good use to which Ashe and McNally put the subsequent possession, operating as twin pivots, one on either side of the field.

O’Connor also revelled in the space this provided and his bout of inter-passing with the impressive Ashe which led to the full-back’s first try in the 25th minute was one of the highlights of the game.

Ashe, back after a hip injury, had his best game for several weeks and his intelligent use of the ball to drop colleagues off short on the inside led to several tries, notably those just after half time scored by Chris Clarke, Ben Heaton and Wayne Kerr.

Unluckily for him, and the team, the Kiwi suffered a painful collar-bone injury midway through the second half which forced him to leave the field and which will cast doubt on his availability for the next game against Swinton Lions at Whitebank on Sunday.

Roughyeds raced into a 28-0 lead inside 34 minutes despite conceding a lot of penalties — four in the first nine minutes and another five before half-time. A better side than Gateshead would have made Roughyeds pay for that.

The defensive effort was generally good, both individually and collectively, but there were odd lapses which Thunder’s livewire sub Will Bate was quick to exploit more than once.

Oldham’s 12 tries came like this:

15 mins: McNally dropped off a short ball to Fogerty coming back inside on the angle and the centre sliced through the wrong-footed cover like a knife through butter.

22: Roughyeds turned defence into attack with an intercept and a couple of plays later McNally and O’Connor shipped the ball left to Fogerty, who crashed over near the corner.

25: The best try of the first half. Ellison’s offload was snapped up off his bootlaces by O’Connor, who put Ashe into a gap. The half-back made ground and, when hit by the cover, found O’Connor back on his shoulder and able to make it to the line with a stretch-over touchdown.

30: A bizarre try if ever you saw one. Ashe spotted that Thunder were nowhere to be seen on their left-hand side and his kick gave Onyango all the time in the world to pick up and almost saunter over the line before beating a defender in-goal — not to be recommended — in order to go behind the posts.

34: Whitmore, always aware and alert, spotted a gap from dummy half and launched his run with power and precision to finish near the posts.

50: Kerr’s powerful surge put Thunder on the back foot and while they were in disarray Ashe popped up a lovely ball to send in Clarke.

55: O’Connor burst out of defence and countered at speed. Thunder did well to cover, but their defence was all over the place and Ben Heaton went through to score, again on Ashe’s final and telling pass.

60: Kerr’s time to score, once again courtesy of Ashe’s ability to spot the gap and put the ball into the right place at the right time.

64: McNally the provider this time and O’Connor the beneficiary with a strong bit of finishing on a pass that couldn’t have been timed any sweeter.

75: O’Connor and Onyango once again turned defence into attack with long breaks, the ball then passing through several pairs of hands going left before McNally popped one over the top for Fogerty to slide in at the flag. Exquisite.

77: Whitmore stood out from the scrum which was superbly worked by McNally to give Whitmore a walk-in past a tired and demoralised defence.

79: A fully-deserved try for Ellison, who was far too strong for the Thunder defence when taking a short ball from dummy half Martin Roden and hitting it on the burst.

Ashe kicked one conversion from two attempts before damaging a calf muscle and handing over kicking duties to McNally, who posted nine goals from ten attempts to crown a highly satifying afternoon’s work for the Roughyeds.

Gateshead: Stoker; Atkinson, Neighbour, M Brown, Peers; Duffy, Scott; Payne, Ryan Clarke, Welton, Rhys Clarke, Wilson, J Brown. Subs: Bate, O’Sullivan, Parker, Aderiye.

Oldham: O’Connor; Onyango, St Hilaire, Fogerty, Gillam; Ashe, McNally; Boults, M Roden, Kerr, Hodson, Chandler, Clarke. Subs: Ellison, Robinson, Heaton, Whitmore.

Referee: M Kidd (Castleford); Att: 433.