Roughyeds Updates

Date published: Monday, September 12, 2011

JOHN Hough’s Oldham RL reserves are 80 minutes from winning silverware on home soil following a superb 46-22 play-off win at Widnes.

The date and details of their grand final against Widnes or Leigh will be announced later, but it will be at Whitebank and will provide Hough’s heroes with an excellent chance of picking up their first trophy.

“We get home advantage in the final as part of the prize for winning at Widnes,” said Hough, “but it’s important for everyone to recognise that we haven’t won anything yet. We are just one step closer.”

Widnes, who finished the regular season as league leaders, have lost only twice all year — both times to Oldham on the Vikings’ home ground at Widnes RU Club.

The reserves’ play-off triumph helped to soften the blow of the senior side’s 39-18 play-off defeat at Rochdale, where the season ended in disappointment for Tony Benson’s men.

Already weakened in the front-row by Luke Sutton’s departure and by long-term injuries to Dave Ellison, Chris Clarke and Bruce Johnson, Roughyeds were further handicapped when they went into the game without Luke Stenchion.

They started with Valu Bentley at prop and Liam Gilchrist on the bench and when the time came to replace Jason Boults his place went to young centre Matthew Fogarty.

Fogarty was also in the wars, lasting only 20 minutes either side of half-time before he was forced to quit with a recurrence of an elbow injury.

Explaining Stenchion’s absence, Benson said he was out of the country on best-man duties at a wedding — a pre-arranged appointment Roughyeds were aware of when he signed in mid-season.

Defeat meant it was the end of the road for the retiring Marcus St Hilaire, who was given a rousing send-off by Oldham fans as he left the field for the final time. His team mates also lined up and applauded him from the field.

Said Benson: “At the end of another season I would like to publicly thank the fans for their vocal support all year. The standing ovation they gave ‘Junior’ was a lovely gesture and one that was appreciated not only by him, but by everyone at the club.

“We have learned a lot this year as a club and as a team, and we will be all the better for it next year, plans for which are already well under way.”

Benson, Hough and scholarship coach Phil Costin will be on the platform for a questions-and-answers session as part of a fans’ forum at Whitebank, which has now been rescheduled for Thursday, September 22 (7.30).

Now that legalities have been completed to secure the club’s future at Whitebank, the first part of the forum will be concerned with the ground and associated developments, followed later by the opportunity to talk rugby with the three coaches.

Tickets at £4, including supper and entry into a draw for a 2012 season ticket, can be purchased from the club office in Lansdowne Road, Chadderton.