Match report – Hornets v Oldham

Date published: Saturday, April 3, 2010

HORNETS 16 OLDHAM 22

By Roger Halstead

OLDHAM were made to dig deep and produce a sterling second-half defensive effort at Spotland on Good Friday in order to pick up their third league win in as many games.

They raced into an 18-0 lead inside 25 minutes on the back of powerful work up front by Jason Boults, Dave Ellison and Valu Bentley, who provided the platform for the cousins Roden to weave their ball-handling magic at close quarters in and around the rucks.

Their skill and expertise in taking the ball to the line and unleashing runners with expertly-timed short balls was one of the main features of the first quarter of the game when Roughyeds looked infinitely superior to the home side.

It was Neil Roden’s clever play up the middle that provided Matty Ashe with a fifth-minute try which the scrum-half also improved. A few minutes later, Martin Roden set Mark Brocklehurst free up the left and the ball went back inside to Ashe, whose well-judged kick over the defensive line bounced perfectly for Marcus St Hilaire. He was brought back for offside in what must have been a marginal decision.

Hornets suffered the first of two serious injuries when Liam McGovern went down with a ruptured achilles tendon and was carried off, his season probably over.

Lucas Onyango did superbly well in defence to prevent a certain Hornets try and then Neil Roden changed defence into attack with a well executed 40-20 up the short side and from a tight angle.

Oldham failed to make the most of it but they kept up the pressure and after good work by Boults, Neil Roden’s short pass close to the line found Luke Sutton, who crashed over from close range. Ashe goaled for a 12-0 lead.

Two minutes later the totally composed Martin Roden cleverly put Joe Chandler through a hole out wide on the left and he in turn sent Mick Fogerty in for a third try, again converted by Ashe.

There then followed the second long stoppish when Hornets debutant Daniel Fleming, from Halifax, suffered severe concussion when attempting to stop Wayne Kerr at full throttle down the middle.

The young forward from The Shay was clearly in a lot of distress as he was carried off and taken to hospital.

After the stoppages Oldham found it difficult to pick up their patterns again whereas Hornets seemed to be galvanised by their bad luck and adversity. It often happens.

They pulled a try back by full-back Craig Johnson and then capitalised on the visitors’ tendency to cough up possession in the first 20 minutes of the second half. For long periods Oldham had their backs to the wall and although they defended stoutly and with plenty of vim and vigour it was an exercise that was always going to take its toll eventually. This was particularly the case because it was their first game in three weeks and there is clearly no substitute for regular match practice.

Gareth Hayes scored the second Hornets try when a chip kick close to the line bounced back to him off a post, and Chris Hough’s conversion put the home side only eight points in arrears.

As Oldham’s handling errors went from bad to worse, Hornets set up camp in Roughyeds territory and it was little surprise when, after Damien Reid had been held up over the line in the corner and another chance had gone begging on the opposite flank, Hornets further reduced the deficit with a Wood try and a Hough conversion.

Leading only 18-16 now Oldham were in need of some inspiration and it was provided by Paul O’Connor’s constant zest for clearing his lines, taking the ball up and giving his tiring forwards a breather.

It was from one such O’Connor thrust, and then a penalty, that Oldham were provided with the field position from which Neil Roden moved the ball left for Fogerty to do the basixcs well and send in Brocklehurst for a much-needed fourth Oldham try.

Ashe couldn’t convert from the touchline and shortly afterwards, when attempting to strike home a decisive penalty goal, he hit the outside of an upright — a let-off for Hornets and one that kept fans of both sides on tenterhooks until the final hooter.

Scorers: Hornets — goals, Hough (2); tries, Johnson, Hayes, Wood; Oldham — goals, Ashe (3); tries, Ashe, Sutton, Fogerty, Brocklehurst.

Hornets: Johnson; Bowman, Saywell, Gorton, Reid; McGovern, Powell; Hayes, Hough, Samuel, Fleming, Smith, Ashall. Subs: Raftery, Cookson, Wood, Bloomfield.

Oldham: O’Connor; Onyango, St Hilaire, Fogerty, Brocklehurst; N Roden, Ashe; Boults, M Roden, Ellison, Heaton, Chandler, Bentley. Subs: Kerr, Robinson, Mansfield, Sutton.

Referee: Mr D Merrick. Att: 1,412.