Oldham reserves v Leigh reserves

Date published: Monday, August 16, 2010

Despite a disappointing 48-18 defeat by Leigh Centurions at Whitebank on Saturday, Roughyeds reserves will qualify for the first time for the top-six play-offs in the Reserves Championship.

They will go to either Widnes Vikings or Leigh in the opening round next Saturday, August 21, depending on the result of the York v Widnes game on Tuesday night. We will keep fans informed on this website of the developments as they happen during the week.

Reserves boss John Hough will be looking for a massive improvement after his side failed to live up to expectations — and to the standards it had maintained all season — in its last game of the regular season.

Said John: “For the first time in the whole of the season I was embarrassed by my team’s performance and I’ve told them that. The play-offs are beckoning and we have had a very good campaign over 16 games to put ourselves in a position for qualifying, but today’s offering was not good enough.

“We had first-team players in the side as well as players who are on the brink of the first team, but the performance was not acceptable and I am bitterly disappointed.

“We need to improve massively for next week, whether it’s Widnes or Leigh we will be going to, and the lads and I will be taking a good hard look this week at where we went wrong and what we need to do to get back to where we were.”

For various reasons, mainly injury and first-team calls, several players who have turned out regularly for the reserves throughout the season — and formed the backbone of the side — were unavailable on this occasion.

Nevertheless, with Matty Ashe, Luke Sutton, Ian Hodson and Craig Robinson in the starting line-up, one would have thought that on paper at least Houghie’s men would have been capable of producing a much better all-round team performance that one which was poor defensively and which was notable mainly for the multitude of mistakes with ball in hand. Poor excecution and concentration led to a breakdown on many occasions, often for forward passes.

Roughyeds trailed 16-6 after half an hour, centre Michael Ward having scored the first Oldham try, goaled by Ashe, but they enjoyed their best spell of the game in the run up to half-time when tries by Dean Hatton and Michael Cadd in the 32nd and 37th minutes, both improved by Ashe, gave them an 18-16 interval lead.

Hatton, playing loose-forward, sparked the side with his trademark brand of enthusiasm and at this stage he got good support from, among others, Ward in the centre and Michael Cadd in the forwards.

However, with four forwards on the bench in Cadd, new boy Sam Shepherd, Dale Lowe and Mark Smith as well as a pack starting line up which featured Paul Raftery, Scott Mansfield, Sutton, Hodson, Robinson and Hatton, the Oldham forwards should have fared much better than they did in attempting to match up to the Leigh six.

Steve Nash at prop and Craig Briscoe in the second-row produced stand-out performances for Leigh, who scored nine tries in total — six of them unanswered in a one-sided second half.

Hatton sent in Ward for the first Oldham try; scored the second himself; and then manufactured the third for Cadd after a huge 40-20 by Ashe had put Leigh on the back foot.

The second half, though, was all Leigh. They got their noses in front for the third time four minutes into the new half and then Robinson was sin-bonned for off-the-ball obstruction as the visitors threatened to add to their lead.

Leigh scored two more tries while Roughyeds were down to 12 men, and it was perhaps typical of Oldham on the day when Tommy Connick failed to put a penalty into touch at a time when Oldham were only two points in arrears and still very much in contention.

After that, Oldham’s level of performance deteriorated badly as Leigh went from strength to strength in adding several more tries.

For the record, the Oldham team was as follows: J Knight; Dennis, Williams, Ward, Chetwynd; Ashe, Connick; Raftery, Mansfield, Sutton, Hodson, Robinson, Hatton. Subs: Cadd, Shepherd, Lowe, Smith.