Grand final – Oldham v York

Date published: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A TERRIFIC Roughyeds season ended in bitter disappointment when we were beaten 25-4 by York City Knights in the Co-operative Championship One Grand Final at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington.

As has been well recorded this was our fourth Grand Final defeat in a row, having been beaten previously in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 finals.

It means we look ahead to another season — our fifth — in the third tier as we continue to build and develop the club both on and off the field around our new home in the borough, which is the Whitebank Stadium.

Players, coaching staff, management, sponsors and fans were devastated by the defeat and also by the manner of it — a performance which was, without doubt, one of the poorest of the year.

Back at the club on Sunday night fans and players together did their best to comfort each other and to get over the pain of losing a final for the fourth year in a row.

Players were the first to acknowledge their below-par performance, admitting to being shell-shocked and unable to put their finger on what went wrong.

For York everything went right and there can be no doubt at all that they were the stronger side on the day and fully deserved their triumph, as the score (four tries to one) would suggest.

Tony Benson summed up thus: “We are all bitterly disappointed — not merely because it was our fourth Grand Final defeat in a row but because so many people have put in so much effort on behalf of the club and team in order to get us to where we are.

“Let me say at the outset, in an attempt to put things in a little bit of context, that all season we have done well and have played above ourselves.

“There have been odd occasions when we have clammed up — the Hunslet and South Wales home games spring to mind specifically — and this game followed much the same pattern.

“While we conceded field position and penalties from the start, York kicked well and constantly trapped POC (Paul O’Connor) on the try line. As a consequence of that we were looking a little bit tired after 20 or 30 minutes.

“We were only six points down at half-time but we had been under a lot of pressure and we were tired. We had suffered a few niggling injuries as well and with 23 minutes still to go we had only two subs left and we were very tired.

“Ten minutes into the second half there were signs that we were just starting to get on top but a couple of things went against us and we then fell away again.

“I’m still very proud of the club for the way we have progressed in all directions this season and for the way the players have gven their absolute all week in and week out.

“It’s time for us to grieve now for a short time and then to put this defeat behind us, move on and start preparing well for next season.

“On behalf of the players I would like to thank Chris (Hamilton), sponsors, supporters and volunteer workers for all they have done for us throughout the year.

“Despite this Grand Final defeat it has been a season to remember.”

For the record, York got off to a flying start when winger Wayne Reittie squeezed over in the cover in the seventh minute. In the process he and O’Connor clashed heads and both required treatment.

Mick Fogerty levelled things up with a try in the 20th minute after a touch of class from Neil Roden, who chipped over the defensive line, regathered and then put in an angled kick to the corner which gave Foggy loads of time and space in which to drop on the ball in the in-goal area.

A similar attack in the next set, this time featuring Gregg McNally’s little kick, might easily have produced more points on another day,but it wasn’t to be and the York defence closed in quickly.

The City Knights defended and tackled with vim and vigour which, alas, couldn’t always be said of the Roughyeds, who conceded their second try on the half hour when they gave away a penalty and then allowed full-back James Haynes to slip through on the blind side for a try in the corner which Lee Waterman goaled off the touchline.

With Roughyeds constantly under pressure they were lucky not to concede again before half-time, going in 10-4 down and clearly in a spot of trouble.

A Waterman penalty goal after a terrific try-saving tackle by Lucas Onyango edged the Knights further in front, but off-colour Roughyeds made little impression on the well-drilled York defence and rarely looked capable of reducing the deficit.

Indeed, Onyango had to make his second try-saving tackle to keep his side in contention, but it wasn’t long before Knights stitched up the game when half-back Chris Thorman slid through a weary defence to score his side’s third try in a carbon copy of the try he scored in the play-off semi-final at Whitebank.

Thorman had bossed the whole show, operating as playmaker-in-chief behind a dominant set of forwards, and the longer the game went on the more influential he became.

With Waterman off the field, he converted his own try and then floated home a drop goal to put Knights 19-4 up with ten minutes still to go.

York were still not finished and they ended the day in joyful mood when Steve Lewis scored in the corner after some slick handling and running from right to left. To rub salt into Oldham wounds Thorman floated his conversion home superbly off the touchline.

Scorers: Oldham — try, Fogerty; York — drop goal, Thorman; goals, Waterman (2), Thorman (2); tries, Reittie, Haynes, Thorman, Lewis.

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

York: Haynes; Reittie, Mitchell, Watrerman, Wilson; Thorman, Ratcliffe; Freer, Lee, Benson, Ross,Esders, Hardbottle. Syubs: Stamp, Dinsdale, Lewis, Stearman.

Referee: G Hewer (Whitehaven).