NRC Oldham 28 v Hunslet 22

Date published: Monday, February 7, 2011

ROUGHYEDS got their 2011 Northern Rail Cup campaign off to a cracking start with an impressive 28-22 win over Hunslet Hawks at Whitebank.

Tries by Jack Bradbury (2), John Clough, Mick Diveney and John Gillam, plus four Diveney conversions, killed off the Hawks who had stormed into an early 12-0 lead before Roughyeds battled back up the hill to lead 16-12 at half-time.

Roughyeds benefited in the first half from an 8-3 penalty count in their favour, but all that was to change dramatically in the second half when Tony B’s men were pulled up 11 times to Hunslet’s four.

Despite having a massive share of possession, however, the Hawks struggled to make it count and that was mainly due to a terrific rearguard action by Roughyeds, whose scrambling defence at times was inspirational to say the least.

Tony B had gone for a line-up which he felt was suited to the heavy conditions and to the opposition. He leaned heavily on size and experience with Martin Roden starting at hooker, Andy Isherwood and Paul Noone forming the second-row and Valu Bentley, Jason Boults and John Clough all on the bench.

Hunslet scored early tries by Stuart Kain and Tommy Haughey, both goaled by David March, but the game was turned on its head when Boults and Clough were introduced off the bench and when, shortly afterwards, David March was sin-binned for a dodgy tackle on Lucas Onyango.

By this time Neil Roden and Clough were ripping the Hawks defence to shreds up the middle. Clough went close to scoring off Neil’s break, but he made no mistake the next time Neil strode up the middle. He was on the stand-off’s shoulder to go clear and dive under the posts.

Earlier Noone had sent in Bradbury at the corner for the first of his two touchdowns.

There was more to come. Clough broke brilliantly on a 40-yard dash and, despite taking a high shot as the defence closed in, he kept his composure to find the supporting Diveney, who raced away to the line.

Two conversions from the scrum-half gave Rougheyds their 16-12 half-time lead with use of the slope still to come. It was looking good, but there was even better to come five minutes into the second half when Roughyeds scored the try of the match.

Bentley’s super offload out wide on the left found Bradbury, who saw the opportunity to give his winger early ball with room to move. Gillam swept clear up the touchline and then turned inside covering full-back Kain to score spectacularly under the posts.

At 22-12 Oldham were well on their way, but Hunslet were not for conceding anything and they counter-attacked smartly to score a try by David Clayton, goaled off the touchline by David March, which put them only four points down.

They applied more pressure when Roughyeds were twice forced to drop out, but they were unable to bust gutsy defence by the home side who then went down the other end where Neil Roden kicked cleverly to the left for Bradbury to collect on the leap and drop over t he line.

Roden was later sin-binned for an alleged high challenge and Hunslet took the chance to score again through young prop Andrew Yates. But as far as they were concerned it was too little too late and Oldham finished worthy winners of a game that had kept the fans on tenterhooks all afternoon.

Scorers: Oldham — goals, Diveney (4); tries, Bradbury (2), Clough, Diveney, Gillam; Hunslet — goals, D March (3); tries, Kain, Haughey, Clayton, Yates.

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

Hunslet: Kain; Pryce, Haughey, Clayton, Barnett; Grimshaw, P March; Sullivan, Haigh, Houston, Kelly, Blakeway, D March. Subs: McLocklan, Woodcock, Oakes, Yates.

Referee: Thierry Alibert; Attendance: 685.