Match Report – Hunslet Hawks v Oldham Roughyeds

Date published: Friday, February 12, 2010

HUNSLET HAWKS 28 OLDHAM 14

by Roger Halstead

Photo’s by Dave Murgatroyd

FANS saw both sides of the ‘new’ Roughyeds — good and bad — in a defeat which will now make it extremely difficult for Tony Benson’s boys to qualify for the last eight of the Northern Rail Cup.

On the credit side there was plenty of team spirit and togetherness which manifested itself in a huge and largely successful defensive effort until fatigue took over in the final quarter of the game.

On the down side, Roughyeds gave away an enormous amount of possession and position by making unforced errors and conceding silly penalties — two or three of them while in possession.

This gave the Hawks a massive amount of ball, particularly in the second half, and in the end Roughyeds could not sustain their defensive solidarity for the full 80 as the craft, guile and know-how of old stagers Paul and David March and Richard Chapman finally came into play in the later stages against overworked opponents.

Neil Lowe and giant sub Scott Woodcock began to make huge inroads up the middle while out wide the explosive Tommy Haughey ran in two late tries, the second on the last play of the game to deny Oldham the consolation of a bonus point.

The Roughyeds at least deserved that. They were arguably the better side in the first half and they were on level terms until midway through the second half despite their oh-so-frustrating habit of playing into Hunslet’s hands by making errors in possession, often on the first tackle.

The pattern was set on the very first tackle of the game. Jason Boults, bringing the ball out of defence, was penalised for interfering with his marker and the home side capitalised with an early try by centre Wayne McHugh on Dannny Grimshaw’s expertly timed pass direct from a scrum.

Oldham were soon back on terms. Neil Roden slipped an equally delicious ball to Joe Chandler down the left centre channel and Marcus St Hilaire got with him to send in Mick Fogerty for the first of his two tries. Matty Ashe goaled and Oldham led 6-4.

That was in the 12th minute and the score remained like that until a couple of minutes before half time when Hawks regained the lead against the run of play.

In the meantime, Roughyeds had supplied most of the football but had been unable to turn it into points.

They chose to run a penalty under the posts, but the Hawks defence stood firm although the visitors fluffed a glorious chance when Martin Roden put Lucas Onyango away on the inside with a lovely reverse pass.

The winger got into full stride and straightened up, but threw a poor pass to Paul O’Connor, supporting on the inside, and a gilt-edge chance was thrown away at a time when Lucas looked to have the pace and the momentum to go himself.

It was only in the closing minutes of the half that Hawks applied any consistent pressure on the Oldham line. Good defence held up winger Michael Mark in the corner, but first-tackle errors in quick succession by Onyango and Saqib — the latter when he appeared to be lifted illegally in the tackle — kept Roughyeds under pressure.

It needed another piece of enthusiastic defending to hold out Paul March but from the play-the-ball Mark dived in to give Hawks an 8-6 interval lead.

At that stage hopes were high that Oldham at least had a 50-50 chance of winning, but the visitors were soon defending heavily once again — this time after Matty Ashe’s restart kick had gone out on the full.

In many respects that summed up Oldham’s performance, notable for the number of occasions they put themselves under pressure when cooler heads, and a touch more experience perhaps, might have made all the difference.

Neverthess, they were provided with a lifeline when Fogerty took man and ball, picked up the rebound and raced threequarters of the length of the field to score a beauty in the corner. He had had a lot of work to do, including taking evasive action with a strong hand-off, but he did it in style and with a determination that has epitomised his performances this season in the colours of his hometown club.

Ashe converted a splendid goal off the touchline and with a 12-8 advantage Oldham were very much in it.

The mistakes, however, went from bad to worse. A Lucas knock-on first tackle and a forward pass from Ashe to Wayne Kerr put Hunslet back in the ascendancy, ending with a Lowe try which McHugh improved for a 14-12 Hawks slead.

An Ashe penalty levelled at 14-14 and Oldham were quickly helped back downfield by another Hunslet infringement only for Ben Heaton to lose possession — again on tackle one.

Moments later Chapman exposed weary-looking marker defence from play-the-ball to make a decisive break, followed by a nifty change of direction which took him past O’Connor and through for Hunslet’s fourth try, goaled by McHugh.

By this time Oldham were looking a beaten side and Hunslet rubbed home their advantage with two late scores by Haughey down the Roughyeds left side.

There was a bizarre incident near the end when the referee produced a red card and appeared to send off Onyango after a challenge which clearly infuriated the Hunslet players.

He quickly changed his mind, however; put the card back in his pocket; and gave Lucas the all-clear to continue.

Apparently, it was pointed out to the referee that he had made a mistake in identification and he took that on board, placing the incident on report instead.

In the final analysis, Roughyeds were definitely the architects of their own downfall. They conceded years in terms of experience but the younger players again came up trumps and contributed much to the overall effort.

The willingness of the side as a whole to roll up their sleeves and work for each other was a pleasing feature.

Not so pleasing was the tendency to get rattled; to make so many errors; and to give away silly penalties.

Maybe some of that was due to a lack of experience when faced by some of the most crafty and cunning operators in the business. If so, it will be a lesson learned ahead of the many challenges that lie ahead in the coming months.

Scorers: Hunslet — goals, McHugh (2); tries, McHugh, Mark, Lowe, Chapman, Haughey (2); Oldham — goals, Ashe (3); tries, Fogerty (2).

Hunslet: Kain; Mark, McHugh, Clayton, Oakes; Grimshaw, P March; Sullivan, Chapman, Houston, Kelly, Haughey, D March. Subs: Woodcock, Firm, Lowe, Wabo.

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

Referee: C Halloran.