RAF at Whitebank

Date published: Monday, June 9, 2014
TRIES by Phil Bickerstaff, Tom Flanagan, Ben Wood and Sam Singleton put the RAF rugby league team to flight at Whitebank on Saturday.

Oldham under-20s won 24-12 despite having Richard Joy sin-binned for dissent midway through the first half before either side had scored.
Full=back Tom Dempsey (17), latest addition to the club’s pro ranks, sent winger ¬†Bickerstaff in for the opening try with a superb, cut-out pass and gave an outstanding all-round performance in which he landed four angled conversions from four attempts, the first of them off the touchline.
Behind a hard-working front five, which included senior squad members Ben Wood and Paddy Mooney, loose-forward Singleton and halves Tom Flanagan and Jake Hughes also showed up well.
It was a tough, hard-fought battle on a wet pitch in which the RAF boys hit back from 12-0 down to go level at 12-12 with tries either side of half-time.
Wood’s try, goaled by Dempsey, put Roughyeds back in front at 18-12, after which it required a superb, try-saving cover tackle by Connor Partington on RAF right winger Simon Wray to maintain the home lead.
Dempsey was narrowly wide with a long-range drop goal attempt before Neil Roden’s men sealed their win when Singleton nipped in for a fourth Oldham try which Dempsey again goaled.
RAF team manager Ozzy Hicks, a flight sergeant stationed at Brize Norton and a member of Tony Benson’s backroom team at Oxford RL Club, said the tough work-out was exactly what his squad had been looking for.
He added: “It couldn’t have been better. For a lot of the game it was a trench-battle in the wet conditions and that’s when you find out what you need to know about your squad.
“As preparation for our trip to Canada it was ideal. We’ve seen there are one or two things we need to look at and work on.
“A big thank-you to Oldham. I’m sure we’ll be talking to them about a re-match at one of the venues we use for home games.”
Oldham team: Dempsey; Kavanagh, Buckley-Mayall, Partington, Bickerstaff; Flanagan, Hughes; Mooney, Ball, R Joy, A Joy, Wood, Singleton. Subs: Sargeant, Hall,  Wareing, Gilkes.
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THE Royal Air Force rugby league team had at least two supporters rooting for them in their 24-12 defeat at Whitebank.
Ron Williams, chairman of the Oldham branch of the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA), and Derek Simpson (secretary) arrived early and were introduced to officials of the RAF party and to Oldham RLFC chairman Chris Hamilton.
Aged 80, Ron served in the RAF in Northern Ireland for three years in the 1950s.
He said: “When we heard the RAF rugby league team was going to be playing on our doorstep we had to come and support them.
“The last time I watched rugby league, more than 50 years ago, the great Bernard Ganley was playing for Oldham at Watersheddings, but I wasn’t going to miss this one because the RAF means a lot to me.”