Oldham 20 Hemel Stags 20

Date published: Monday, March 10, 2014

WE picked up only two league points from our first home league game, Hemel snatching a 20-20 draw with two unconverted tries in the last three minutes.

It was a smash-and-grab raid which cost us a point — and three had looked secure when we led 16-0 at half-time and again 20-12 with time running out fast.
It was certainly a game that was there for the winning and judging by Scott Naylor’s reaction afterwards there will be some soul-searching this week as coaching staff and players endeavour to discover what went wrong in the second half.
Injuries didn’t help. Liam Thompson went off with a facial injury after a clash of heads with Kenny Hughes and ended up in hospital.
Ben Wood looked to be hobbling in the second half and Tom Whitehead, whose probing runs had caused Hemel trouble all the game, finished with a recurrence of Achilles trouble.
When attacking down the slope in the first half we totally dominated the game and we should have scored more points than those harvested by tries from Danny Whitmore, Jason Boults and Dale Bloomfield and a couple of conversions from Sam Gee.
Nevertheless, turning round 16 points to the good against a Hemel side that had rarely threatened seemed to put us in a relatively strong position.
Not so. While Hemel resumed for the second half looking a different side altogether, Roughyeds lost their way and actually conceded four tries to one in the second 40.
Hemel pulled back to 16-12, whereupon we looked to have stopped them in their tracks when Danny Langtree’s clean break up the middle fashioned a try for the supporting Kenny Hughes. Lewis Palfrey, who came on at half time, took over goalkicking from his vice-captain, but shot wide from a relatively comfortable position.
Even so, we led 20-12 with only three minutes left and were stunned when Hemel’s wingers each crossed in their respective corners to square things up.
Both tries were too far out to earn conversion points, so it finished with honours even.
Oldham scorers: goals, Gee (2); tries, Whitmore, Boults, Bloomfield, Hughes.
Team: Whitehead; Nield, Wood, Gee, Bloomfield; Robinson, Hughes; Ward, Whitmore, Boults, Crowley, Langtyree, Thompson. Subs: Files, Davidson, Mooney, Palfrey.