Reserves 62 – 40 Leigh

Date published: Sunday, July 31, 2011

PROP Matty Barber celebrated a try hat-trick as Oldham RL Reserves beat Leigh Centurions 62-40 in a top-three clash at a sun-drenched Whitebank Stadium on Saturday.

Soaring temperatures and a rock-hard pitch made tackling hazardous and defensive graft exhausting, resulting in an astonishing 18 tries — 11 to Oldham, seven to Leigh.

Unbeaten at home since the opening day of the Reserves Under-23s Championship season on March 19, John Hough’s all-action squad has won seven and drawn one of its last eight games.

Leigh remain in second place behind Widnes Vikings, but third-placed Roughyeds have beaten both of them once and they will be guaranteed a second-place finish if they win each of their last three games against Sheffield Eagles away next Saturday (11.30am kick off), Dewsbury Rams at home on Saturday, August 13 (2.30pm) and Whitehaven away (2.30pm) on Saturday, August 20.

“We want to attack the play-offs from second place,” said coach Hough, “and we are capable of doing it. I’m never completely satisfied, and we’ll certainly be looking at our defensive work, but to put 62 points on the team just above us in second spot says a lot about what we are and what we are striving to become.”

Coming off the bench, impact forwards Barber, a Warrington boy, and Tom Wood-Hulme, from Widnes, ripped Leigh’s defence to shreds when taking the ball on the burst and hitting full throttle.

It was on the back of one such break by Wood-Hulme that Barber galloped in for his first try before adding two more in the second half, both from close range courtesy of Danny Whitmore’s astute distribution from dummy half.

“It was my first hat-trick since I was at junior school,” said Barber, “and it was a special feeling when I got the third try late on, although this win was all about teamwork rather than individual performances.”

There was no score for the first 20 minutes, as the teams sized each other up, then the floodgates at both ends opened as 102 points were scored in the next hour of end-to-end rugby league.

Oldham raced into a 26-12 lead at half-time and although Leigh had a couple of strong spells when attacking down the slope in the second half the closest they got to their opponents was 32-24.

The Roughyeds try scorers were Paul Brearley, Wood-Hulme, Barber (3), Chris Dean, Matthew Fogarty, Alex Thomson, Alistair Williams, Danny Langtree and Jamie Dallimore, who also landed nine conversions.

Team: Nield; Williams, Fogarty, Brearley, Chetwynd; Dallimore, Connick; Eyres, Hughes, Gilchrist, Dean, Knight, Thomson. Subs: Whitmore, Wood-Hulme, Langtree, Barber.