Match report – Oldham v Gateshead

Date published: Monday, April 26, 2010

So who would YOU have picked as man of the match in the Roughyeds’ 64-10 win against Gateshead Thunder at Sedgley Park?

On a personal note I don’t attach too much importance, in a team game, to ‘best this’ or ‘best that’ but they do provide a talking point and they appear to be of great interest to many fans, writes ROGER HALSTEAD.

Having had, in a previous life, the dubious distinction on many occasions of having to name a man of the match, I know how difficult it can be at times. In some games there are no obvious stand-out performances and the poor unfortunate soul who is charged with making the decision runs the risk of being embarrassed and subjected to widespread public disapproval when the winner is announced.

And you also get some matches in which there are several genuine candidates, and then it is just as difficult as it is when you are scratching your head to find somebody, anybody who might just about qualify for the award.

It all comes down, of course, to opinion . . . and you can wager a seat in the stand at Whitebank to an empty can of paint (red paint or white paint, it matters not) that the opinion of somebody on the terraces will be vastly different to the opinion of the coach or of the players themselves.

You see, we all view things from a different perspective — and it would appear that in the Gateshead game opinion was divided between John Gillam, Neil Roden and young Chris Clarke.

The club’s official man of the match is normally chosen by the man-of-the-match sponsor, but on this occasion there wasn’t such a sponsor so two or three club officers got their heads together and gave it to Chris, who had enjoyed a superb game in the forwards and who is coming along in leaps and bounds in his first season of senior rugby.

He, Ben Heaton and Scott Mansfield are proof of the value of a reserve-team youth policy and there is no doubt that all three will make even more significant forward strides as the season goes on.

So well done Clarkey on your first senior man-of-the-match award, and may there be many others to come in the future.

John, who marked his comeback game after injury with four tries, must also have been a strong candidate. In the event he took the champage-moment award to crown a memorable league debut in the colours of his home-town club, and he immediately took up the modest stance and said that anything he had achieved was down to the creative talents of Neil Roden and his centre Mick Fogerty.

Foggy sent his winger in for two tries and Neil set up the other two on a plate with delicately weighted kicks of sliderule accuracy.

Neil, in fact, had a hand or a foot in ten of the 12 tries Roughyeds scored in total and on the strength of that he was my personal choice as man of the match.

But ask yourself these questions: would Clarkey have had such a big game if the likes of Dave Ellison, Wayne Kerr, Craig Robinson, Luke Sutton and Jamie I’Anson had not bossed the show ahead of him?

Would Neil R, and in the second half Matty Ashe as well, have enjoyed the time and space to make life a doddle for their outside backs if Clarkey and his mates in the middle had not functioned as well as they did?

And would John G have caught the headlines with his four-try haul if Neil R had not been in such superb form as a midfield playmaker?

One piece of the jigsaw is dependent on another, so it was easy to see why coach Tony B, in his post-match media interviews, was at great pains to play down individual contributions and to play up the teamwork element.

Suffice to say here that, in the main, the team’s defensive work on Saturday was as sound as ever and the offensive side of things was infinitely better than it has been in recent games.

Not only did Roughyeds score 12 tries to maintain their 100 per cent league record after six games, but they also missed a few. Lucas Onyango (first half) and Mick Fogerty (second half) must still be wondering how they failed to score when provided with clear-cut chances and, in Lucas’s case, when he was already over the line.

Both were to make amends with late tries, Lucas picking up a Thunder kick deep inside his own half and quickly getting into top gear to race clear and score a trademark, long-range effort.

Foggy’ try was only what he deserved after he had produced centre play of the highest quality to put Gillam in for two.

Ian Hodson, back in a familiar Roughyeds role on the edge of the rucks, superbly created a try for Neil Roden, while Matty Ashe started and finished a superb try with a move which also featured Marcus St Hilaire.

Fans were treated to a veritable feast of football, but there were only 413 there to see it and club officials will be hoping to swell that threefold at least when the team is finally able to run out at Whitebank, hopefully on Sunday week for the visit of York City Knights.

Scorers: Oldham — goals, Ashe 8; tries, Clarke, Gillam (4), O’Connor (2), Chandler, Ashe, Onyango, N Roden, Fogerty; Gateshead — goal, Neighbour; tries, Wilson, Duffy.

Oldham: O’Connor; Onyango, St Hilaire, Fogerty, Gillam; N Roden, Ashe; Ellison, M Roden, Kerr, Robinson, Chandler, Clarke. Subs: Sutton, Whitmore, I’Andson, Hodson.

Gateshead: M Brown; Peers, Wilson, Neighbour, J Brown; Duffy, Clark; M Barron,Bate, Parker, Clarke,Humphries, Aderiye; Subs: Young, Welton, Cash, G Barron.

Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow (St Helens); Att: 413.