Oldham 26 Hemel 18

Date published: Monday, June 24, 2013
FLYING high . . . our boys moved up to second place in Kingstone Press Championship One with a hard-fought 26-18 win against Hemel Stags at Whitebank.

It was our sixth win in eight games; it gave us a league double over the side that had shocked leaders North Wales Crusaders the week before; and, courtesy of Rochdale’s defeat at London Skolars, it carried us to our highest position yet in the league table.

We did it without Mo Agoro, who failed a fitness test on an ankle injury on Saturday morning, and also Jason Boults, whose run of 50 consecutive games came to an end when he bust a finger in a freak training accident last Thursday night.

To fill those gaps Steven Nield came into the backs and we brought in Jordan Walne from Salford on dual registration to take the place of Boults.

We had first use of the slope and a strong wind, but Hemel defended stoutly and restricted us to a 10-4 interval lead, which we gained with tries by Dale Bloomfield and Nield and one conversion by Lewis Palfrey.

Palfrey, Anthony Bowman and Jon Ford handled swiftly to get Bloomfield in at the corner, while the second try featured a superb down-the-middle break by Walne, support play by Palfrey and finishing of the highest order by Nield, who took a difficult ricochet, juggled with the ball and then dived over in one movement.

We put ourselves under a spot of pressure early in the second half with a couple of errors and Hemel capitalised to go into a 12-10 lead with the second of speedy centre Mason Caton-Brown’s two tries, somewhat fortuitous it has to be said, plus a conversion and a wind-assisted penalty goal from half way by BJ Swindells.

We took control, however, in a purple patch of eight minutes towards the when we put three tries past a tiring Stags defence by Danny Langtree, Kenny Hughes and Ford.

In the build-up to all three tries there was some massive work by the forwards with Liam Gilchrist, Phil Joy, Walne, Michael Ward constantly pushing holes up the middle, while on the back of that Sammy Gee, Adam Files and Hughes terrorised a visitors’ defence that was suddenly all over the place.

Gee was outstanding in this one and it was appropriate that he should start the mini points spree with a great run and offload which led directly to Langrtee’s try.

Palfrey’s clever creativity sent in Hughes on the inside and then quick passing right to left gave Ford the opportunity to go over wide out.

Even though Hemel were allowed to score in the dying seconds to earn a bonus point (Oldham claimed it was a double movement) this was another solid, all-round display by an Oldham side that appears to be going from strength to strength as the season builds towards its zenith.

Oldham scorers: goals, Palfrey (3); tries, Bloomfield, Nield, Langtree, Hughes, Ford.

Team: Nield; Lepori, Cookson, Ford, Bloomfield; Palfrey, Bowman; Gilchrist, Gee, Joy, Langtree, Crowley, Hobson. Subs: Files, Hughes, Ward, Walne.

Hemel: Forgham; Champion, Small, Caton-Brown, Mostyn; Coleman, Young; Howitt, Molloy, Pritchard, Ingerfield, Swindells, Aggrey. Subs: Keevill, Ljazouli, Miranda.

Ref: D Merrick; Att: 489.