Lessons to learned fast—Scott

Date published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SCOTT Naylor will experience a mixed bag of emotions when he and his Oldham RL players sit down at training tonight to analyse Rochdale’s 23-22 play-off triumph at Whitebank.

The Roughyeds boss will be bitterly disappointed, angry and frustrated, yet still appreciative of the way his young squad battled back from 22-12 down to level at 22-22 while playing up the hill and into the wind.

Having studied DVD footage of the game, however, he cites Oldham’s “dumb rugby” as the underlying reason for Rochdale’s narrow win, brilliantly though Paul Crook put boot to ball to spearhead his side’s passage to the final at Leigh at the end of the month.

“We have lessons to learn — and we have to learn them fast,” said Naylor, ahead of Sunday’s must-win play-off elimination clash with London Skolars at Whitebank (3pm kick off).

“Tonight’s session will be about looking at what we did wrong and hopefully taking steps to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes against Skolars.

“I can never knock this fine young squad for effort and desire. They are a great bunch, gutsy, hard-working and exceptionally fit.

“Those qualities took us to second place in the league and provided us with a nine-game unbeaten run before Sunday’s one-point defeat. Our previous defeat was in early June — by two points at the home of the team that finished top.

“It was typical of this bunch that, despite playing their first game for a month, despite doing more first-half tackling than we’ve done all season, despite playing up the hill and into the wind and despite having two hookers at half-back they hauled themselves back into touching distance of winning with those two late tries by Mo Agoro.

“If you’re looking for a positive consider this: if those boys weren’t as fit and as mentally tough as they are they would have lost to Rochdale this time by 20 or 30 points because of all the dumb rugby we came up with and the number of points we presented to Rochdale on a plate.”

He said Crook should not have been given the opportunity to land two penalty goals. Another six points were gift-wrapped and given to Rochdale just before half time when Roughyeds made a hash of a turnover play-the-ball on their own line.

Added Naylor: “For the first 17 minutes we were well on top, then we started making mistakes coming away from our own line and it all went downhill from there.

“After that we only got into their half once more before half-time. We did a lot better in the second half for field position, but I was annoyed because I was sending on messages which largely went ignored.

“It didn’t help when Lewis Palfrey had to go to full-back because of Tom Whitehead’s injury. That left us with two hookers at half-back, Kenny Hughes and Sammy Gee, and a young kid just out of Academy rugby, Adam Files at hooker.

“We still got it back to 22-22, scoring three second-half tries to their one, but in the four minutes that were left we did a few things wrong with the result that Crook got the opportunity to finish us off.

“He should never have been given that opportunity.

“We know exactly what we have to do now to win promotion — we’ve to beat London and Rochdale in the space of eight days — and if we are to make it happen we’ll have to play a lot better than we did on Sunday.”

The Oldham v London game at Whitebank on Sunday (September 22) kicks off at 3pm. All pay (no season tickets) and normal admission prices apply — adults £11, concessions £9, under-16s £3, seat transfers £2.