INDIVIDUAL errors, some of them unforced, proved costly for Oldham RL under-20s in a 26-12 defeat by derby rivals Rochdale Hornets at Mayfield Sports Centre.
Hornets went 12-0 up inside quarter of an hour after Phil Joy spilled the ball in the first tackle of the game and then Steve Woods had the ball ripped out of his grasp in a one-on-one close to the Oldham line.
Joy made amends by working tirelessly and effectively after that, but as Roughyeds threatened to get back into the game when trailing 16-8 just after half-time he had to leave the field with a facial wound and Oldham’s go-forward was never quite the same again without him.
A try at that stage was only what the visitors deserved, but Hornets struck on the counter-attack with a superb try by winger Barry Clarke, set up stylishly by his centre Mike Ratu, the most influential player on the park.
It was the fourth of five Rochdale tries, while Roughyeds managed only three — by centre Tyrone Parsonage and prop Joy in the first half and by second-row man Brad Hargreaves, by then playing on the right wing, late in the game.
None of the Oldham tries was converted, Hornets enjoying a distinct advantage in all aspects of kicking, highlighted by impressive hooker Lewis Sheridan’s superb 40-20 and then his perfectly-weighted grubber into the in-goal area, which provided him with a superb try.
Said Roughyeds coach Phil Costin: “The better side won. We didn’t slide well in defence and Hornets executed their plays better than we did.
“Their go-to man was Ratu and he didn’t disappoint; he was the main difference between the sides.
“Among our positives was the form of the second-row lads, Brad Hargreaves and Sam Hughes. They did well at Leigh in the previous game and they maintained their good start to the season in this game.”
Team: Halsall; Woods, Cookson, Parsonage, Ward; Flanagan, Fitzsimmons; Joy, K Hughes, Hudson, Hargreaves, S Hughes, Ryan. Subs: Sherratt, Hall, Sargeant, Rasool.
From Left to Right: Phil Joy, Grant Hudson & Kenny Hughes.