Sheffield Eagles 6 – 42 Reserves

Date published: Monday, August 8, 2011

JOHN Hough’s young Oldham RL high-fliers were again in scintillating form when trouncing Sheffield Eagles 42-6 in an under-23s Reserve game in South Yorkshire on Saturday.

In so doing they leapfrogged Leigh Centurions to go second in the table behind Widnes Vikings and, with two games left, to become firm favourites to head into the play-offs as championship runners-up.

They have won 12 and drawn one of their 16 league games, completing league doubles over Keighley Cougars, Halifax, York City Knights and Sheffield Eagles and taking three points out of four off Featherstone Rovers.

They can’t finish top, despite being the only side all season to beat champions-elect Widnes, but two wins from their remaining games against Dewsbury Rams at Whitebank on Saturday (2.30pm) and Whitehaven away seven days later would guarantee a second-place finish.

Their achievements are all the more creditable because seven of the nine teams with which they are in competition are representative of Championship clubs as opposed to Championship One as is the case with Oldham, Keighley and Whitehaven.

In this latest triumph in Sheffield, which stretched their unbeaten run to nine games, Roughyeds slogged it out with rugged opponents in a 30-minute arm-wrestle and then turned on the razzle-dazzle to score 36 unanswered points..

Enterprising attack produced seven tries in total, each converted by Jamie Dallimore, while tenacious defence restricted Sheffield to one try, scored near the end of the game on the back of three penalties in a row.

Prop Danny Langtree scored two second-half tries while others fell to centre Matthew Fogarty, loose-forward Alex Thomson, winger Terry Bridge and second-row pair Chris Dean and skipper Jamie Knight.

Best of the lot was Thomson’s individual effort in which he chipped over two defenders close to the line, regathered with his right hand while under pressure from the full-back and planted the ball down for the try by the side of the posts, all in one movement — sheer class.

Thomson had an outstanding game in a hard-working pack which established a platform from which clever half-backs Dallimore and Tommy Connick ran the show and thus enabled several players to further enhance growing reputations.

Hough’s heroes are a nightmare to defend against because so many of them right across the park are gifted footballers with the vision to take right options and the skill and composure to make them count.

The boss, though, was as happy about his side’s defensive stint as he was about its exciting attack.

Said Hough: “Having conceded a few tries against Leigh the week before, even in victory, we needed to put in a big defensive effort this time.. Our goal was to keep Eagles to 12 points or fewer, so we achieved that with plenty to spare.

“No side in this division will lie down and make it easy for you. You have to earn the right to open out and play expansive rugby and that’s what we did in the first half hour when we soaked up a lot of pressure, yet remained in control and in readiness to open out when the hard graft had been done first.”

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