Sheffield Eagles 42 Oldham 28

HAVING beaten Eagles three times in their previous four meetings, Oldham were described by Sheffield boss Mark Aston pre-match as “one of our bogey teams.”

In this fifth encounter in our two seasons of Championship rugby, however, Eagles won the day thanks to a hat-trick by left wing Garry Lo, who took his tally for the year to 25 to cement his place as by far the highest try scorer in the second tier.

We travelled to Wakefield, where Sheffield are playing all their home games this season, with an injury-depleted squad, but one which battled hard and never capitulated. This was particularly evident in the second half when we outscored Eagles 16-14 and finished the stronger side with three unanswered tries between the 60th and 74th minutes.

Our undoing was some suspect defence out wide, particularly in the ten minutes either side of half-time when Eagles scored 28 points, including five tries, several of them from long range.

We went toe to toe with the home side for half an hour when we led 12-10 with tries by Adam Clay and Michael Ward, both converted by David Hewitt.

The lapses followed and when trailing 38-12 in the second half we looked to be in a tight corner, but the boys rolled up their sleeves and definitely rattled the home side with 16 unanswered points.

It started when Leatherbarrow took the ball to the line and put Adamson through a hole to score a try which the stand-off also converted.

Eagles began to concede penalties, this enabling Roughyeds to keep up their momentum when George Tyson was first to react to a loose ball after a Leatherbarrow kick ricocheted off Lo and rolled into the in-goal area. Leatherbarrow again added the goal.

Finally, Connor Williams did well to squeeze in at the corner after excellent work by his centre, Sammy Gee, on the approach to the line.

This time Leatherbarrow’s kick off the touchline looked as though the wind was going to carry it home, but the ball struck a post and bounced out.

Roughyeds remained on top for the last few minutes but then the Eagles left flank of Menzie Yere and Lo again showed their class in the dying seconds when the ball was quickly shifted out to them deep inside the home half and Menzie broke and kicked ahead for Lo to finish off behind the posts.

Scorers: Sheffield — goals, Brown (5); tries, Wheeldon, Yere, Hope, Owens, Lo (3), Spedding; Oldham — goals, Hewitt (2), Leatherbarrow (2); tries, Clay, Ward, Adamson, Tyson, Williams.

Sheffield: Owens; Blackmore, Spedding, Yere, Lo; Brown, Marginet; Wheeldon, Fozard, Mexico, Hope, James, Minchella. Subs: Burns, Straugheir, Trout, Scott.

Oldham: Nield; Clay, Tyson, Gee, Williams; Leatherbarrow, Hewitt; Burke, Hughes, Smith, Ward, Bent, Adamson. Subs: Wilkinson, Adebiyi, Ward, Davies.

Referee, G Dolan; Att: 329.

Bradford Bulls 47 Oldham 12

AN already casualty-hit Oldham side was hammered by more injuries at Bradford where Scott Leatherbarrow and Jack Spencer had to go off early in the game, never to return.

Scott damaged a shin bone in a heavy tackle (he was later going for an x-ray) and Jack suffered a groin injury.

That left us two replacements short for most of the game, in which we were already behind the eight ball because we were up against full-time opposition in our third game in eight days.

That they hadn’t won a game in nine didn’t seem to dampen their confidence or their enthusiasm as they raced into a 21-0 half-time lead with left-wing Ethan Ryan scoring a first-half hat-trick and then adding a fourth try early in the second half.

The much-changed Oldham side had Steve Nield at full-back, playing his first competitive game for Roughyeds in nearly two years and doing exceptionally well in the circumstances.

Only Adam Clay, of the regulars, featured in a threequarter line which included dual-reg pairing Sam Wood and Gene Ormsby and, making his debut, on-loan London Broncos youngster Kameron Pearce-Paul.

His fellow Bronco, prop Sadiq Adebiyi, was on the bench and both did well, especially so considering they had only trained once with the team and were in a new environment and in a side that was up against it.

It was always going to be a tall order to win at the Provident Stadium with so many regulars out of the side, but it was made even taller because the side was ‘soft’ in defence and prone to error every time they hit the Bulls 20-metre zone.

By the time we scored late tries by Danny Langtree and David Hewitt, Bulls were already 35-0 ahead.

Danny’s try followed a good break by Sam Wood, who was moved into the middle when Leatherbarrow went off, with Sammy Gee coming off the bench to play in the centre.

Hewitt followed his own little chip near the Bulls line to add a second try, but the home side then went on to add another 12 points.

Bradford – tries, Ryan (4), Bentley (2), Chamberlain (2), Mendeika; goals, Thomas (5), drop goal, Thomas.

Oldham — tries, Langtree, Hewitt; goals, Hewitt (2).

Bradford: Thomas; Chamberlain, Mendeika, Oakes, Ryan; Lilley, Keyes; Oledzki, Moore, Magrin, Bentley, Smith, Hallas. Subs: Peltier, Kirk, Davies, Roche.

Oldham: Nield; Clay, S Wood, Pearce-Paul, Ormsby; Leatherbarrow, Hewitt; Ward, Hughes, Neal, Thompson, Langtree, Spencer. Subs: Gee, Adebiyi, Davies, Bent.

Referee, J Roberts; Att: 3,708.

Another defeat – – and more injuries

CHAIRMAN Chris Hamilton and head coach Scott Naylor have vowed to remain positive and upbeat despite the 20-16 defeat by Dewsbury Rams.

While the loss in itself was bitterly disappointing, injuries to Danny Grimshaw (hamstring), Scott Turner (concussion) and Gareth Owen (foot) made it even worse.

Said Chris: “Our fans were fantastic. Thanks for that. The lads tried their best to give you the win you deserve, but it wasn’t to be. The bounce of the ball killed us.

“We were in a similar position to this last year and we fought our way out. We’ll do the same again this time, believe me.”

Added Scott: “It seems like the world is against us. But we have to stand tall, stand together and take it on the chin like men.”

We led 12-6 at half-time with tries by Danny Grimshaw and Michael Ward, both improved by Scott Leatherbarrow.

Rams levelled at 12-12 early in the second half, but despite our injuries we kicked two penalty goals by Leatherbarrow for a 16-12 lead.

It looked like staying that way, but with only five minutes left Leatherbarrow had a kick charged down and the ball bounced back to Oldham’s line where Moore touched down to deliver the killer blow.

Paul Sykes kicked the goal and then added a penalty.

Oldham — tries, Grimshaw, Ward; goals, Leatherbarrow 4/5
Rams — tries, Morton, Ollett, Moore; goals, Sykes 4/4

Oldham: Turner; Clay, Tyson, Grimshaw, Chisholm; Leatherbarrow, Hewitt; Neal, Hughes, Burke, Adamson, Langtree, Spencer. Subs (all used): Ward, Thompson, Owen, Davies.

Oldham 12 Halifax 30

ROUGHYEDS will be kicking themselves for missing a golden opportunity to take an 18-12 lead midway through the second half.

Having dominated most of the first half, without scoring, they went in at half-time 12-0 down.

But they were quickly out of the blocks in the second half to pull level with tries by Scott Turner, Michael Ward and two Scott Leatherbarrow goals — a conversion and a penalty.

At that stage Scott Naylor’s boys were on top. Gareth Owen was enjoying his best spell of the season from dummy half, the forwards were running hard down the slope, and Roughyeds looked good enough to go on and complete the job.

Halifax were rocking, make no mistake about that.

Owen went close to setting up a try for Ben Davies and from an ensuing penalty Turner and George Tyson linked up well to expose space down Fax’s right side.

George went clear and fed Leatherbarrow on his inside. Try surely. But no. The final pass was forward, a wonderful opportunity was missed — and Scott’s boys were never the same again.

A try then and they would surely have gone on to win. That’s how dominant they looked until Leatherbarrow’s unbridled joy turned to despair when he realised the pass which set him free to the line had been ruled forward.

It knocked the stuffing out of us while lifting Fax, who went on to totally control the rest of the game with 18 unanswered points, including three more tries.

The score didn’t reflect what Oldham put into the game. They totally dominated the first 20 minutes in terms of possession and position, but they couldn’t bust open a tough Fax defence, although they were unlucky when Adam Clay went close in the corner and when Turner was held up over the line, although he was convinced he had scored.

Perhaps showing why Fax are pushing for the top four and Roughyeds are anxious to get out of a six-match losing run, the visitors finally got some scraps of good possession late in the first half — and came up with two tries by Will Sharp and Brandon Douglas.

Roughyeds suffered a major blow as early as the 18th minute. Richard Lepori was in scintillating form from full-back, causing Fax problems on every kick return, but he went down with an injury to his left ankle.

He tried to run it off after treatment and strapping but after moving out to the left wing with Turner switching to full back he was forced to quit at half-time and now faces a race against time to be ready for Wednesday’s crucial Bower Fold clash with Dewsbury Rams.

Scott had to switch things round at half-time with Sam Wood going on the left wing and Luke Adamson pulled out of the pack to play left-centre, with Turner continuing to have an impressive game at full-back.

Tyson edged a titanic battle with his opposite number Steve Tyrer; Lepori was having a cracker before he was injured; Turner had a big game; Ward, Tyler Dickinson and Owen all made big impacts off the bench.

Owen was back to his best from dummy half in the first 20 minutes of the second half, but the forward-pass decision was to prove a game changer.

So now it’s all to play for against the Rams on Wednesday.

Oldham: tries, Turner, Ward; Goals, Leatherbarrow 2/3

Halifax: tries, Sharp (2), Douglas, Moore, Morris; Goals, Tyrer 5/6

Oldham: Lepori; Clay, Tyson, S Wood, Turner; Leatherbarrow, Hewitt; Neal, Hughes, Burke, Adamson, Langtree, Spencer. Subs: Ward, Dickinson, Owen, Davies.

Halifax: Sharp; McGrath, Woodburn-Hall, Tyrer, Worrincy; Murrell, Johnston; Cahalane, Moore, Murray, Grady, Barber, Grix. Subs: Morris, Wilkinson, Douglas, Boyle.

Ref: J McMullen; Att: 809.

Carey delighted with rousing show

THOUGH disappointed not to have picked up a shock win, Oldham’s assistant boss Peter Carey said he was “delighted” with the overall performance in a 24-32 loss to Hull KR — a sign, he said, that better days lie ahead.

“We played well in spells at Swinton last week,” he said. “The plan this week was to find a consistent level and stick to it for 80 minutes, which I would say we did.

“Each and every player did well. We stuck to the game plan and in the first 20 minutes we had a near-100 per cent completion rate.

“We were playing exactly how we had asked them to play and from the coaching staff’s point of view that’s really pleasing.

“Towards the end of the first half we slackened our grip a little bit and they crept back into it.

“We talked at half-time about still being in the game despite the 16 points they scored in the run-up to half time. I didn’t think the half-time score reflected our level of performance in the first 40 minutes.

“We also talked about how important it was for us to start the second half as we had started the first, but a couple of crucial decisions went against us and got us on the back foot.

“Another aspect of today’s performance that was good was the way in which the halves took the ball to the line, this creating a better service out wide to people like ‘Langers’ (Danny Langtree).

“We’ve got to build on this now, sort out the little things that will improve us even more and go into the next couple of games, both at home, with a lot more confidence and self
belief.”

We started magnificently with three tries in the first ten minutes by Joe Burke, David Hewitt and Sam Wood, all of them converted beautifully by Scott Leatherbarrow.

It was Leatherbarrow’s break in the first set that created the chance for Burke to score under the posts.

A Hewitt interception try followed soon afterwards — he ran nearly the full length of the pitch — and then Wood touched down after Rovers had failed to tidy up a low trajectory kick from Hewitt to the corner.

We led 18-0 until close to half time but then things started to go Rovers way. Three penalties in a row proved costly for us and the visitors scored three tries themselves in the last seven minutes of the half to trail 18-16 at the interval.

In the second half they went out to 32-18, but we scored again when more pressure allowed Darnell McIntosh to fly in at the corner and score a try which Leatherbarrow goaled again off the touchline.

Oldham scorers: tries, Burke, Hewitt, Wood, McIntosh; goals, Leatherbarrow 4/4.

Team: Turner; Clay, Tyson, Wood, McIntosh; Hewitt, Leatherbarrow; Neal, Hughes, Burke, Adamson, Langtree, Spencer. Subs: Hill. Dickinson, Owen, Davies.

Ref, Chris Campbell; Att: 1,066.