Oldham v Hunslet

Date published: Monday, May 24, 2010

OH DEAR! Things didn’t work out according to plan when Roughyeds suffered a 60-4 thrashing by Hunslet Hawks at Whitebank in front of another good crowd of more than 1,000.

The Hawks were in sizzling form, make no mistake about that, and they clearly have enough size, strength, skill, experience and expertise to mount a serious challenge for the Co-operative Championship 1 title and, with it, automatic promotion.

Roughyeds, though, are really struggling to recapture the form, the self-belief and the individual and collective desire to win — the winning mentality, if you like — that was the hallmark of their performances when they produced seven victories on the bounce earlier in the campaign, writes ROGER HALSTEAD.

This was their second defeat in their three games at Whitebank and it certainly wasn’t in the script for Tony Benson’s boys to go into the game as league leaders and then to concede 11 tries in the club’s biggest defeat for a long time.

With first use of the slope on a rock-hard pitch and with the sun beating relentlessly down, Roughyeds competed for 20 minutes. They conceded an early try to Pryce in the corner, but soon replied with a 12th minute Onyango try after good work by Reilly and Hodson.

Four minutes later pressure looked like paying off when Chandler chased Ashe’s kick into the in-goal, but the try was disallowed for a knock-on in its build-up.

And as far as Oldham’s chance-creating was concerned that was just about it. Hawks regained the lead in the 20th minute when Tommy Haughey smashed through new-boy Gregg McNally’s one-on-one tackle to give Pryce his second try and thereafter Hunslet seemed to score every time they had possession in Oldham’s half of the field.

It was a tough baptism for loan-signing McNally and for his half-back partner Matty Ashe.

They were playing behind a well-beaten pack and faced with big opposing forwards who seemed to have a never-ending supply of good possession with which to make life intolerable for the Oldham halves.

With ball in hand, Roughyeds could find no way through or around a dogged Hunslet defence. They were short on punch, sparkle, variety or creativity.

Hawks, on the other hand, produced loads of entertaining wing-to-wing football on the back of a powerful pack performance in which Tommy Haughey out wide on the right and substitutes Neil Lowe and Scott Woodcock up the middle had towering games.

In the March brothers and in Danny Grimshaw, the visitors had the midfield playmakers and decision-makers to generally take the right options at the right time and to create time and space on the outside for the backs to run in the tries.

Centre Wayne McHugh on the left side and winger Waine Pryce on the right each ran in hat-tricks — a sure indication of how expansive Hawks were and of their ability to strike all over the park once Lowe, Woodcock and Co had collared the initiative where it mattered most.

By half time Hawks led 32-4 with ries by Pryce (2), Kain, Mchugh, Grimshaw and Mark and four goals by McHugh.

If Hunslet could do that playing up the slope, what would they do going down it? We soon found out.

With four minutes of the second half gone, Pryce got over in the corner to complete his hat-trick and there were more tries to come for David March, Woodcock and two late ones by McHugh, who finished with 28 points from three tries and eight goals.

Much has been written and said about Neil Roden’s absence through injury — and the affect that has had on the side’s attacking structure and momentum — but the defensive side of things has also been hit by Roden’s unavailability and also that of Marcus St Hilaire and Valu Bentley, three good defenders.

St Hilaire has missed the last four games — two defeats — and Bentley has missed the last six — three defeats — after a run of six games and six wins before he was injured at South Wales Scorpions.

Roughyeds will now regroup and, as Tony B has promised, will take a good, long look at what went wrong and what must be done to rectify things for the next big test at Workington on Sunday.

Oldham: O’Connor; Onyango, Reilly, Fogerty, Gillam; McNally, Ashe; Boults,M Roden, Kerr, Hodson, Chandler, Clarke. Subs: Ellison, Robinson, Heaton, Whitmore.

Hawks: Kain; Pryce, Clayton, McHugh, Mark; Grimshaw, P March; Sullivan,Haigh, Houston, Dooler, Haughey, D March. Subs: Robinson, Lowe, Woodcock, Helme.

Referee: Mr C Sharrad (Manchester); Att: 1,004.