NRC – Halifax 50 Oldham 10

Date published: Monday, February 14, 2011

LUCAS Onyango scored each of Oldham’s two tries and was one of the side’s better performers in a disappointing 50-10 Northern Rail Cup defeat at Halifax on Sunday (Feb 13).

Roughyeds trailed only 14-6 at half-time but the game ended as a contest in the first few minutes of the second half when ‘Fax scored three converted tries to go 32-6 up with nearly half an hour still to go.

Despite a groin injury sustained in the pre-match warm-up full-back Ben Heaton did well in the first half before he was pulled out of the battle line against his wishes.

Ben Wood, Mick Diveney, John Clough, Danny Whitmore, Paul Noone and Valu Bentley tried hard in a well-beaten side but too many Oldham players were under par and for the first time this season the pack finished second best.

Oldham didn’t enjoy the forward thrust that has propelled them to success in three games out of five this year with most of the plaudits up front going to Michael Ostick, Jim Gannon, Dylan Nash, Sam Barlow and the two juggernauts who came off the bench, Makali Aizue and Frank Watene.

By comparison Dave Ellison, Liam Gilchrist, Jason Boults and Luke Sutton had quiet games for an Oldham side that found itself on the back foot for most of the game.

This gave ‘Fax halves Ben Black and Danny Jones the platform to run the game and to be largely instrumental in the setting up of most of their side’s nine tries.

Against a side that is, in theory at least, the best outside Super League, Roughyeds needed to be at their best; to be rugged in both scrambling defence and one-on-one challenges; to complete their sets; and to keep penalties conceded down to a minimum.

Sadly, they achieved none of those requirements, giving away a lot of ball in wet, tricky conditions but, even more damaging, running up a whole string of penalties that simply allowed the home side to put down base camp in the Roughyeds’ quarter.

‘Fax quickly went 10-0 up thanks to tries by Michael Ostick and Ben Black and a conversion by Lee Paterson, but Oldham hung in and made it 10-6 with a good try in the corner by Onyango courtesy of Mick Diveney’s wide ball to the flank.

Lucas showed strength and determination to squeeze over inside the flag and then Diveney kicked a superb goal off the right-hand touchline to put Roughyeds only one score down.

In the very next restart set, however, Sutton lost control of the ball and ‘Faz regained possession for winger Rob Worrincy to “do a Lucas” and score at the flag.

Half-time came with Roughyeds only eight points in arears at 14-6, but they badly needed a big restart and just the opposite happened when Boults lost the ball in a tackle on the restart set.

Cashing in ruthlessly on their good fortune, ‘Fax then turned the screw against a tiring Oldham defence to run in three converted tries without Oldham touching the ball apart from restart kicks.

Aizue, Black and two-try Sam Barlow crossed the Roughyeds line inside 12 minutes and the game was over as a contest even at that early stage.

On this occasion, and uncharacteristically, there was a lack of grunt and muscle in Oldham’s defensive work as ‘Fax scored further tries by Danny Jones, Barlow and Gannon.

Oldham’s one second-half reply came courtesy of Onyango and some good work by Diveney, who picked up a Fax kick on his bootlaces deep inside the Roughyeds quarter; made good ground; and then had the vision to spot Onyango lurking in support on his right with room to move up the touchline.

He gave the winger early ball and Lucas turned on the pace to get wide of the covering White and Worrincy and score from fully 70 metres.

Scorers: Halifax — goals, Paterson 5, Jones 2; tries, Ostick, Black (2), Worrincy, Aizue, Barlow (2), Jones, Gannon; Oldham — goal, Diveney; tries, Onyango(2).

Halifax: Greenwood; Worrincy, Ratu, Paterson, White; Jones, Black; Ostick, Beswick, Gannon, Bannister, Nash, Barlow. Subs: Aizue, Penkywicz, Watene, Fieldhouse.

Oldham: Heaton; Onyango, Wood, Bradbury, Gillam; N Roden, Diveney; Ellison, Clough, Gilchrist, Isherwood, Noone, Bentley. Subs: Boults, Whitmore, Sutton, Clarke.

Ref: Jamie Leahy; Att: 2,027.