Oldham 66 Gateshead 12

Date published: Monday, March 14, 2011

WE got our Co-operative Championship One campaign off to an impressive start with a 66-12 romp against Gateshead Thunder, scoring 12 tries in the process.

Dave Ellison, John Gillam, Lucas Onyango, Marcus St Hilaire and John Clough didn’t play for various reasons, but the players who stepped up all did a splendid job to restore a lot of confidence to the squad on the opening day of the new league season.

Thunder were not the toughest opposition we will face in our attempts to live up to the bookies’ view that we are favourites for the league title.

Nevertheless, Tony B will take great comfort from this much-improved showing even though the players who came into the side played with such vim and vigour that he will have a few headaches when he sits down to select a squad to go to Workington next Sunday.

Mark Brocklehurst, who has played consistently well since returning to Roughyeds from a winter stint with Oldham RU, crowned a man-of-the-match performance here with four tries as the injured John Gillam’s replacement on the left wing.

Teenager Matthew Fogarty, in for the suspended Lucas Onyango on the other wing, chipped in with a brace, including a superb touchline-hugging effort for his second which won him the club’s champagne-moment award.

Seven of the 17 Roughyeds players on view were Oldham born — and after the match club historians were claiming a ‘first’ in that each of the four outside backs in the starting line-up carried the “made in Oldham” trademark.

Wingers Brocklehurst and Fogarty and centres Ben Wood and Jack Bradbury were all reared in the local junior game, as were scrum-half Mick Diveney, loose-forward Chris Clarke and substitute hooker Danny Whitmore.

“To have so many local boys in the side is a sign of the direction in which we are moving, and the direction in which we want to move,” said chairman Chris Hamilton.

As well as converting nine of the 12 tries, Diveney gave an impressive performance, especially in the first half, and had a hand or a foot in the build-up to most of his side’s scoring opportunities.

Whitmore was also eager to make the most of this chance to impress. Opportunity knocked for the former Salford City Reds youngster when assistant coach Martin Roden had to quit with a hamstring injury midway through the first half.

Whitmore grabbed it to carve Thunder open on numerous occasions from dummy half and to perform with a passion and a self-belief that augurs well for the remainder of the season.

Young prop Liam Gilchrist was another who put up his hand with a performance which must surely put pressure on some of the more senior front-rowers.

Skipper Neil Roden failed to get the one try he needed to reach the milestone of 100 Roughyeds tries in cup and league, but like his half-back partner Diveney he played the lead role in making sure that others got over the line instead.

If four-try Brocklehurst, two-try Fogarty and one-try Bradbury were the main beneficiaries in the backs, there were a couple of forwards who also capitalised, namely back-row pair Andy Isherwood and Valu Bentley.

Isherwood ripped Thunder apart down Oldham’s right side, registering a hat-trick with tries in the 12th, 60th and 79th minutes, while Bentley went in twice, first courtesy of Roden, second thanks to Diveney.

Credit the visitors with a determination to compete to the end, as witnessed by winger Robin Peers’s 64th minute try on the counter attack and then Ryan Clarke’s lovely little chip and regather which enabled him to score by the posts and then convert his own try.

Scorers: Oldham – goals, Diveney (9); tries, Brocklehurst (4), Isherwood (3), Fogarty (2), Bentley (2), Bradbury; Thunder — goals, Clarke (2); Tries, Peers, Clarke.

OLDHAM: Heaton; Fogarty, Wood, Bradbury, Brocklehurst; N Roden, Diveney; Boults, M Roden, Gilchrist, Isherwood, Noone, Clarke; Subs: Whitmore, Bentley, Sutton, Wood-Hulme.

GATESHEAD: Condron; Brown, Morris, Harding, Peers; Woods, Coutts; Parker, Clarke, Payne, Stoker, Norman, Ward. Subs: Hodgson, Welton, Bate, Barron.

Ref: Craig Halloran; Att: 562.