Oldham reserves v Featherstone reserves

Date published: Thursday, May 20, 2010

DESPITE the reserve team’s 28-20 defeat by Featherstone, Roughyeds’ officials had plenty to smile about at Whitebank on Wednesday night when the first reserve team match took place since we moved in.

The attendance of 275 was the club’s biggest second-team gate for years — and better than that which watched high-flying Blackpool Panthers, eight wins out of eight, smash Gateshead Thunder 132-0 in a Championship 1 game last weekend.

It was also close to the 340 which watched the Roughyeds’ first team lose 24-22 to Championship side Sheffield Eagles in a Northern Rail Cup tie at Sedgley Park on a Monday night in February.

“It was a great turn-out for a midweek reserve-team game,” said club chairman Chris Hamilton, “and there was a good atmosphere too.

“It confirmed what we have always believed; that rugby league fans in the town would start coming back once we were back home where we belong.”

Roughyeds trailed 28-12 early in the second half, Paul Ashton having been sin-binned for dissent, but they finished the stronger to score two late tries by forwards Michael Ward and Michael Cadd.

Cadd, a big prop, scored twice in an eye-catching individual performance, while Dean Hatton also crossed the Rovers line and Mark Smith landed two goals.

Head coach Tony Benson was there to cast his eye on the club’s young hopefuls, while several first-team players turned up to lend their support, including Martin Roden, Lucas Onyango, John Gillam and Chris Clarke.

Rovers, attacking down the slope, went 6-0 up inside three minutes, but Roughyeds quickly replied with a cracking try. Ben Mellor fed a short ball to Kashley Watkins, who offloaded in the tackle to Mick Diveney.

The scrum-half broke into the clear and with options either side he chose to put the ball back inside to Dean Hatton, who scampered away to the posts. Mark Smith goaled.

Scoring apart there were several notable features of the first half. Hatton was denied a try for a double moment on the line; Rovers scrum-half Aaron Dobek fired a superb 40-20 own the slope; Cadd made one fantastic hit which stunned Rovers second-rower Williams; and Paul Ashton was sin-binned for dissent.

Between times, Rovers extended their lead to 18-8 with two close-range tries before Roughyeds got back into the contest when Cadd crashed over after Austen Barrowclough and Mellor had both gone close.

Rovers, used to playing on Post Office Road which has a similar gradient to Whitebank, made maximum use of their first-half advantage, first with the 40-20 and then when they found touch with the restart kick after the Cadd try.

It gave them valuable field position in the last few minutes of the first half and it produced another close-range try as Roughyds struggled to hold the opposing forwards close to the line.

Rovers scored yet another similar try early in the second half to lead 28-12, but Roughyeds came back strongly after that and had they taken all their scoring chances they might have pulled the game round.

As it was they rattled up late tries by Michael Ward and the powerful Cadd, neither of which Ashton could convert.

They also went agonisingly close on another occasion when Barrowclough moved well from dummy half to set up Jacob Kinney, who lost control of the ball when stretching for the line.

Despite the fightback, coach John Hough admitted to being bitterly disappointed. “And that’s an understatement,” he added.

It wasn’t so much the result that disappointed him, as the performance. “We had put in a lot of preparation all week, ” he added, “but we just didn’t go through with it. I will look at the DVD to see if if throws up any answers as to why we didn’t play as planned, but those answers will be kept in-house.

“We now have ten days to rectify things — ten days, before the visit of York City Knights to Whitebank on Saturday, May 29, to ascertain where we went wrong and to work on making sure we don’t do the same things again.”

Oldham try scorers were Cadd (2), Hatton and Ward, while Smith landed two goals in the first half.

Team: Coates; Hamilton, J Knight, Brocklehurst, Williams; Fullalove, Diveney; Kinney, Hatton, Mellor, Watkins, Ward, Smith. Subs: Ashton, Cadd, Marsden, Barrowclough.

Make a note in your diary for the next Reserves match — Saturday, May 29, York City Knights at Whitebank, kick-off 3.00pm.