Match Report – Hunslet v Oldham Roughyeds

Date published: Saturday, March 13, 2010

HUNSLET HAWKS 16 OLDHAM 29

BY Roger Halstead

TEAMWORK with a capital T and the mental toughness to conquer adversity were the main components of Oldham’s winning formula on a hugely rewarding night for Tony Benson and his team at the South Leeds Stadium.

The rampaging Roughyeds didn’t merely make it two league wins from two away games; they beat the bookies’ title favourites in their own backyard despite a series of setbacks that would have floored men with less fire in their bellies.

Hunslet were given eight first-half penalties to Oldham’s one — and if that wasn’t enough to back the Roughyeds into a corner they had Martin Roden and Mick Fogerty sent to the sin bin in separate incidents.

They also had to reshape and rejig when Matty Ashe and Ben Heaton went off injured in the first half.

The Kiwi half-back, who got a finger in the eye, returned later to spearhead Oldham’s victory push with his second try in the 54th minute, but only after doctors had dispelled initial fears that he had suffered a detached retina.

In total, Benson’s brave battlers were down to 12 men for a quarter of the game, but Hunslet scored only one try while their opponents were numerically disadvantaged, such was the willingness of every man in an Oldham jersey to pull out that little bit extra for club and team mates.

To lose key midfield operators like scrum-half Ashe and hooker Roden for periods of the game when it was delicately poised could easily have tipped the balance of power Hunslet’s way.

But this spirited Oldham outfit would have none of it. They retained their composure; sorted out one or two first-half issues that presented the Hawks with a barrow load of penalties; and turned the penalty count on its head in the second half as the home side got more and more rattled by the minute.

Their poor discipline let them down badly and played right into Oldham hands yet, unlike the visitors, they always had 13 men on the field apart from the last couple of minutes when Darren Robinson was sent off for dissent with the three league points already in Roughyeds possession.

They were worthy winners, outscoring the Hawks by five tries to three; running in three stunners; boasting many of the game’s outstanding individuals; and working incredibly hard in defence whenever Hunslet mounted a challenge.

Lucas Onyango and Marcus St Hilaire were outstanding on the right flank; Neil Roden and Ashe had the edge over Paul March and Danny Grimshaw at half-back; and Wayne Kerr and young Joe Chandler were in particularly fine fettle in a Roughyeds pack that fired on all cylinders from start to finish.

Scott Mansfield, on his debut, and Jamie I’Anson, in his first game for six months, also made significant contributions.

Hunslet went 6-0 up with an early try and goal by Wayne McHugh, but Oldham quickly evened things up when Ashe grubber kicked to the posts, got a rebound off a defender, hacked on again and won the chase to touch down.

Neil Roden’s 40-20 set up Oldham to take the lead and it came when the play-making stand-off received from Jason Boults to deliver a superbly-timed pass to put Chandler into the clear and over the line.

12-6 became 16-6 a few minutes later with another great Oldham try. Neil Roden,Chandler and Mick Fogerty all handled at speed from right to left before Paul Reilly finished off in the corner.

The only other score of the first half was a try to Hunslet by Dave Clayton following a high kick to the corner.

In a fiery start to the second half Fogerty was sin-binned and an incident in which Hunslet lifted Paul O’Connor over the horizontal and dumped him was placed on report.

A penalty by Ashe nosed Oldham into a 18-10 lead, but with Fogerty off the field and Oldham stretched out wide on the left side Joan Oakes went in at the corner off a wide ball from Stuart Kain and McHugh converted off the touchline to take Hunslet to 16-18.

Oldham were in need of some inspiration at this stage and it came from the always-alert Ashe, who took the ball off John Oakes in a one-on-one challenge to score a try which the Kiwi also improved.

Hunslet’s restart kick went out on the full and Oldham capitalised when St Hilaire came up with a lovely piece of old-fashioned centre play out wide from a scrum to provide Onyango with the Roughyeds’ fifth try.

Ashe failed to convert, and then put a late penalty attempt wide. Another Oldham chance was missed when, not for the first time, Neil Roden put Chandler through a gap only for the young centre to take a wrong option.

Oldham needed one more score to deny Hunslet a bonus point and it was fitting that the all-important drop goal was placed between the uprights by ice-cool Neil Roden.

Scorers: Hunslet — goals,McHugh (2); tries, McHugh,Clayton, Oakes; Oldham — drop goal, N Roden; goals, Ashe (4); tries, Ashe (2), Chandler,Reilly,Onyango.

Hunslet: Kain; Pryce, McHugh, Clayton, Oakes; Grimshaw, P March; Sullivan, Robinson, Houston, Dooler, Haughey, D March. Subs: Woodcock, Kelly, Lowe, Knight.

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

Referee:Chris Leatherbarrow (St Helens); Att: 521.