Reserves 66 – 20 Dewsbury Rams

Date published: Sunday, August 14, 2011

WITH one game still to play, John Hough’s Oldham RL under-23s clinched runners-up spot in the Championships’ Reserve Division with a 66-20 mauling of outclassed Dewsbury Rams at Whitebank on Saturday.

Widnes will finish top, but Roughyeds have already beaten them once on Merseyside this season and they will go there again in the play-offs for the right to advance straight into the Grand Final and to stage it on home soil. Losers in the Widnes-Oldham game will get a second chance at home against the overall winners of the teams finishing third to sixth inclusive.

“We haven’t won anything yet,” said coach Hough, “but four years ago we didn’t even have a second team so to finish in the top two of a division chiefly made up of Championship clubs — and some of the leading ones at that — is a terrific achievement.

“Our goal at the start of the year was to finish in the top two and to do that with a game to spare speaks volumes about the players’ hard work and the club’s commitment to the advancement of the second team.

“We go to Whitehaven next Saturday in our final league game and that will form part of our build-up towards the play-offs. Now that we know exactly what awaits us in the play-offs we can plan accordingly, but we will be taking one small step at a time.”

The comprehensive, 12-try hammering of Dewsbury avenged a 50-16 defeat in Yorkshire back in April — one of only three losses in 17 games — and stretched Roughyeds’ unbeaten run to ten.

They have knocked over every team in the division, including table-topping Widnes, and have finished above the second teams of Championship clubs Dewsbury, Halifax, York, Featherstone, Leigh and Sheffield as well as the other two Championship One clubs in the division, Whitehaven and Keighley.

Hough and his assistant, Paul Ashton, have done an exceptional job in building the squad, moulding it and taking it to within one game of a Grand Final while at the same time overseeing, in the last two years, the progress to the senior squad of Ben Heaton, Chris Clarke, Matthew Fogarty, Michael Ward and Shaun Robinson.

In their latest win, Roughyeds scored six tries in the first half when half-back Jamie Dallimore and loose-forward Alex Thomson were at their influential best and six more in the second half despite the withdrawal of Dallimore and Thomson at half-time.

Roughyeds led 32-8 at that stage and Thomson was taken off as a precaution because he had picked up a couple of knocks, while Dallimore was rested because there was a chance he might have been called upon for first-team duty at Rochdale the following day.

Try scorers were Terry Bridge, Thomson (2), Danny Langtree (2), Kenny Hughes (2), Tom Wood-Hulme, Paul Brearley (2), Steven Nield and David Cookson, while Dallimore kicked foru goals and Tommy Connick five.

In the second half, when Connick took over Dallimore’s role as playmaker-in-chief, Brearley moved from centre to stand-off and Cookson stepped up from the bench to go in at right-centre.

Brearley responded with two tries before setting up the 12th and final touchdown for Cookson with a clever grubber kick into the in-goal area.

Team: Nield; Chetwynd, Brearley, Fogarty, Bridge; Connick, Dallimore; Langtree, Hughes, Gilchrist, Dean, Knight, Thomson. Subs: Cookson, Wood-Hulme, Joy, Barber.