Oldham 18 Rochdale 32

Date published: Monday, September 30, 2013

ROUGHYEDS centre David Cookson played with a fractured jaw in our disappointing 32-18 defeat by Rochdale in the Championship One grand final at Leigh.

The best-kept secret of the pre-match build-up was that Cookson suffered the injury against London Skolars, but insisted he wanted to play with the use of a headguard.

It was his try early in the second half which gave us the lead for the first time at 18-12 and looked at that stage as though it might set us up to go on and win.

He said later the extent of the injury he suffered against London was discovered when he went to Rochdale Infirmary for an x-ray.

Said David: “As far as broken jaws go I suppose it was just a simple fracture, but there was no way I was going to miss the grand final.

“I’ve never worn a headguard before, but it did the job okay.

“I needed stitches for a gash under my chin in the London game, but it wasn’t until later in the week, when my jaw was still hurting a bit that I decided to go to hospital.

“I got through the game okay. It didn’t give me too much trouble.”

Skipper Lewis Palfrey, reflecting on the game, said this was his first grand final as a professional and he never again wanted to experience defeat.

He added: “For the lads who are staying at the club this defeat has to act as incentive to do better next year. It’s got to be a source of motivation.

“We need to look at the match video to analyse what went wrong. The momentum of the game shifted a few times, but we need to learn how to keep hold of momentum once we’ve got it going for us.

“Credit to Rochdale. They regained the momentum after we had gone 18-12 up and they went on to win the game. We are all disappointed, but on a personal note I know I will use it to drive me on and I’m sure that will also be the case for the rest of the lads.

“We are only a young side and we will learn from this I know.”

Back at the club, the players were warmly welcomed “home” by a large gathering of fans, who were more interested in congratulating the players on what they had achieved over the course of the full season than commiserating with them over the grand-final disappointment.

Assistant coach Lee Spencer and Lewis Palfrey were among those who took to the stage to talk to supprters, who were all assured that players and coaching staff would benefit from the experience of this setback and would return next season stronger and better.

Club stalwart Neil Roden, whose distinguished playing career has now come to an end, was presented with a memento, listing all his achievements, by his fellow players and received the warm wishes of everyone present at the end of a career in which Neil has been a shining example to all those younger players who will now follow in his footsteps.

“He’s been a mentor to me this season and he has given me loads of advice and help,” said the club captain Palfrey.

The final itself didn’t go as planned on a day when Roughyeds were not quite able to produce the form that has stood them in such good stead right through the season.

For the record Jon Ford, Kenny Hughes and Dave Cookson scored tries, while Lewis Palfrey converted all three of them, two of them from out wide near the touchline.

We were drawing 12-12 at half time and we went in front four minutes into the second half, but we couldn’t build on that and Hornets came back to rattle us with 20 unanswered points in the last quarter.

Their try scorers were Dave Llewellyn (2), Danny Davies, David Hull and Wayne English, while man-of-the-match Paul Crook kicked six goals from as many attempts and constantly put us on the back foot with his impressive kicking game.

Oldham: Lepor; Agoro, Cookson, Ford, Bloomfield; Palfrey, Hughes; Joy, Gee, Boults, Crowley, Langtree, Hobson. Subs: Files, Ward, Thompson, Haggarty.

Hornets: English; Langley, Davies, Hull, Waring; Crook, Roper; Forster, Hough, Thompson, Llewellyn, Trumper, Greenwood. Subs: Cookson, Baines, McClurg, Case.

Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow; Att: 6, 374

The season is over now, but it has been a memorable one in which a young squad assembled by Scott and ‘Spanner’ on a limited budget surpassed all expectations by finishing as runners-up only two points behind champions North Wales Crusaders.

We had the best away record in the division and were only one win short of going up automatically, this making grand final defeat all the harder to stomach because we finished NINE points ahead of Rochdale in the league, although in the end that counted for little.

We went into the play-offs on the back of a great run of consistent form in which we lost only one in 13 and went nine games without a defeat.

With several signings already made for next season, preparations are already well under way and fans can rest assured that Scott, Spanner and the boys will have a short break before returning refreshed and ready to go again in 2014.