Roughyeds hope to retain Tony Benson

Date published: Thursday, September 30, 2010

ROUGHYEDS hope Tony Benson will be staying as coach for a third successive season. Preliminary talks took place before the season ended in a 25-4 Grand Final defeat by York City Knights at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington on Sunday, September 26.

“Tony and I have spoken about him staying on and there is no reason why that is going to change,” said club chairman Chris Hamilton.

Although it was the club’s fourth Grand Final defeat in a row — and the second under the command of the popular New Zealander — the season overall was a hugely impressive one with Roughyeds winning 17 of their 20 Co-operative Championship One games to finish as league runners-up behind Hunslet Hawks.

In terms of league competition it was the new club’s best return across the 13 seasons that a team has operated under the banner of Oldham RLFC (1997) Ltd.

Benson’s boys also achieved two all-time Oldham Rugby firsts by winning each of their ten league games on opponents’ grounds and chalking up the club’s biggest-ever score in beating South Wales amateurs Blackwood 80-6 at Sedgley Park in March in the third round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup.

For the record, the ten away league wins were achieved at Swinton (38-20), Hunslet (29-16), Hornets (22-16), South Wales Scorpions (22-16), Doncaster (46-26), Workington (28-16), Gateshead (68-10), Blackpool (24-22), York (33-18) and London Skolars (48-18).

Individually, six players became ever-presents by appearing in each of the 28 cup and league games across the season — and that is believed to be, although unconfirmed, the first time ever that so many players have achieved that status.

The super six were full-back Paul O’Connor, right-wing Lucas Onyango, left-centre Mick Fogerty, hooker Martin Roden, prop David Ellison and second-row Joe Chandler.

Prop Wayne Kerr and utility man Ben Heaton missed only one game, while prop Jason Boults missed only two.

Three players jointly topped the club’s try-scoring charts, Fogerty, O’Connor and Onyango each crossing the line 19 times across the season as a whole.

Despite all this the manner of the Grand Final defeat by York was a bitterly disappointing one which left many, including the chairman, drained.

He told the Oldham Evening Chronicle: “Everyone has said how far we have come in a short space of time, having our own ground and doing so well to finish second in the table.

“I recognise all this is true, but at the same time the sense of disappointment is huge. I don’t think anyone saw it coming — and that isn’t a criticism of anyo0ne, it’s just a fact.”

Chris paid tribute to the fans who went to Warrington for the final and who have backed the club and the team all season. He added: “I am massively disappointed for them. The noise they made in the final was absolutely superb.

“I don’t want to take anything away from York, either. The score reflected their efforts and you have to credit them and the game plan they employed.”

So far three senior players are contracted for 2011 in Jason Boults, Dave Ellison and Johnny Walker and contract talks will be continuing over the next days and weeks in order to put together the squad for next season.