Match Report – Oldham Roughyeds v Blackwood Bulldogs

Date published: Monday, March 8, 2010

OLDHAM 80 BLACKWOOD BULLDOGS 6

by Roger Halstead

The runaway Roughyeds rewrote the record books for the second time in ten months when they eased into the fourth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup with a 15-try performance at Sedgley Park on Sunday.

A 78-10 win at London Skolars last May had club statisticians establishing that the win in north London was an all-time best.

And it was beaten again in this huge triumph against the plucky amateurs of Blackwood Bulldogs — the first non-professional side in ten years to represent Wales in the third round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup.

Matty Ashe’s tenth conversion out of 15 attempts, to convert Mick Fogerty’s try in the last minute, again turned the Roughyeds into record breakers by establishing the club’s all-time highest score as well as the biggest-ever winning margin.

Joe Chandler and Mark Brocklehurst each scored try hat-tricks to win the club’s champagne moment awards.

Man-of-the-match Paul O’Connor, Saqib Murtza and lively Kiwi half-back Ashe each grabbed a brace of touchdowns, while others were scored by Lucas Onyango, Dave Ellison and Fogerty.

Oldham led 36-0 at half-time, but went on to score even more points than that in the second half despite being starved of a lot of possesion by the deadly accuracy of visiting captain Jeremy Lloyd’s short restart kicks.

The Bulldogs’ 37-year-old skipper, scrum-half and playmaker-in-chief repeatedly put Roughyeds under pressure by putting high kicks from the restart just over the ten-metre line and dropping into the path of his rampaging forwards.

“Jeremy is our ‘Little General’ and we figured his restart kicks would pay off for us,” said the Bulldogs coach Alex Borghese. “We got the ball back eight times and that denied Oldham a lot of possession.

“Our club is only four years old and just to get here is a fairytale. I was proud of the boys, many of whom were out on their feet at the end because they had played rugby union the day before.”

Ashe finished with 28 points from ten goals and two tries, but in terms of breaking individual records he fell short of the 34 points accumulated by Andy Ballard in last season’s big win at the Skolars.

Six of Oldham’s seven first-half tries were scored wide out and the pattern was replicated in the second half as the Roughyeds produced a brand of expansive rugby that was always pleasing on the eye.

Lucas Onyango, Marcus St Hilaire and Ben Heaton were dangerous enough on the right flank, but on the left side of the field Mick Fogerty, Mark Brocklehurst and Joe Chandler were the Roughyeds’ version of The Untouchables.

They scored seven tries between them as they cut the Bulldogs to pieces with a combination of excellent centre play, speedy finishing on the wing and razor-sharp support play on the inside by young Chandler.

“Oldham played some great rugby — a pleasure to watch,” commented former Watersheddings favourite Adrian Alexander, whose memories of the days when he used to get under Ray Ashton’s short restart kicks must have been triggered by how well the Bulldogs employed the same ritual.

They did it so well so often that it was bound to pay dividends eventually, and so it proved in the first minute of the second half when they got the ball back from the kick-off and full-back David James crossed under the posts after a break by stand-off Kristian Perry.

James might have had another when he ran the length of the field only to be toppled just short by the chasing Onyango.

The pacy full-back has signed for South Wales Scorpions and it was easy to see why Scorpions had tracked him down, especally when he stopped at least three certain Oldham tries with copybook tackling early in the game.

Blackwood, a team from deep inside The Valleys and deep inside Max Boyce country, might have been short of speed, craft and general rugby league nous, but they lacked nothing in physicality and commitment to the cause.

Dear old Max would have had no difficulty in coming up with a lyric or two about the speed of full-back James; the aggression of centre Gareth Price; or the huge contribution of the ‘Little General’ with No 7 on the back, Jeremy Lloyd.

But even the Welsh bard would have been forced to concede that the men from The Valleys faced a near impossible task in trying to negotiate the enormous gulf in class that separates the Welsh conference with the upper reaches of Co-operative Championship 1.

Scorers: Oldham — goals,Ashe (10); tries, Chandler (3), Brocklehurst (3), O’Connor (2), Saqib (2), Onyango, Ashe (2), Ellison, Fogerty; Blackwood — goal, Perry; try, James.

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

Blackwood: James; Humphries, Knight, Price, Dare; Perry, Lloyd; C Williams, B Williams, Adam Coupe, Rusby-Davies, Vokes, Andrew Coupe. Subs: McGovern, Elliott, Morgan, Clements.

Referee: Tim Roby (Leyland); Att: 455.