Oldham 36 – 14 Keighley

Date published: Tuesday, July 26, 2011

DOWN in seventh place maybe, but Roughyeds gave out a message loud and clear at Whitebank on Sunday . . . don’t write off our chances of making a big impression in the Co-operative Championship One play-offs.

This was our fourth win in the last five games and we appear to be running into our best form of the year at just the right time to cause a few rivals to be glancing over their shoulders.

Cougars won’t forget their first-ever visit to Whitebank in a hurry because such was their frustration at their inability to master our blanket defence that Andy Shickell was sin-binned for holding down early in the second half and then, near the end, hooker James Feather was shown the red card by referee Ronnie Laughton for a high tackle on Valu Bentley.

The match official had previously taken decisive action when awarding Oldham a penalty try on the half hour following a touchline incident in which centre Mark McCully looked a certain scorer until he was taken out by a high tackle

[singlepic id=805 w=320 h=240 float=left]There were 25 penalties in total — split 15-10 in Oldham’s favour — as both sides struggled to satisfy the demands of the match official.

However, there was no doubting the overall supremacy of Tony B’s boys, who tackled tenaciously and attacked with flair to score 30 unanswered points after the Cougars had taken a 10-6 lead inside half an hour.

Playing up the slope, Oldham led 14-10 at half-time with tries by influential Neil Roden and centre  McCully in the 8th and 32nd minutes, plus two conversions and a penalty goal by Carl Forber.

Keighley, who briefly went into a 10-6 lead, replied with touchdowns by Will Cartledge and Jermaine Wray, the latter following a scoot from dummy half on the back of five penalties in a row.

The first try of the second half was always going to be important and it fell to Oldham only five minutes in. Paul Noone’s superbly-timed pass put Marcus St Hilaire in the clear and although he fell to the cover defence, Oldham moved the ball quickly left for McCully to link up superbly with supporting full-back Ben Heaton, who crossed in the corner.

It was a superbly fashioned try by a team on top of its game, and two more were to follow while Shickell was in the bin and Cougars struggled to hold the rampaging home side.

Cougars had planned to ‘do a job’ on Oldham’s playmaker-in-chief Neil Roden, but the veteran stand-off had a great game, as did his half-back partner Carl Forber.

Roden scored one try and played a major role in four others, while Forber attacked the Cougars line to great effect, kicked well and did more than his share of defending and cleaning up.

It was one such break by Forber which led to Shickell’s yellow card, and Cougars were made to pay, first when Noone scored from Roden’s grubber kick and secondly when Cougars lost possesion near half way and St Hilaire picked up to send his winger, Mark Brocklehurst, screaming for the corner.

Worse was to follow for Cougars when Feather got his marching orders and Heaton went under the posts for the sixth Oldham try on a great inside ball from — you’ve got it — that man Roden.

James Hutchinson got a consolation try for Cougars in the corner in the last minute, but the day belonged to Oldham, who made it 11 wins from 13 games at Whitebank this season.

Scorers: Oldham — goals, Forber 6; tries, N Roden, McCully, Heaton (2), Noone, Brocklehurst.

Oldham: Heaton; Brocklehurst, St HIlaire, McCully, Robinson; N Roden, Forber; Boults, M Roden, Stenchion, Noone, Bravo, Bentley. Subs: Clough, Sutton, Casey, Ward.

Keighley: Halley; Hutchinson, Normington, Lawton, Duffy; Coleman, Smith; Shickell, Feather, Pursglove, Cartledge, Baines, Demetriou. Subs: Wray, Benjafield, Rawlins, Shepherd.

Att: 637; Ref: Ronnie Laughton.