TB’s comments

Date published: Monday, February 21, 2011

OLDHAM boss Tony Benson will try to pinpoint this week why Roughyeds have developed a puzzling tendency to lose their way in defence for a while for no apparent reason.

Benson’s men have always prided themselves on at least going flat out for 80 minutes and making opponents toil and sweat for every point they score.

That honesty and intensity earned pre-season trophy wins against Rochdale and Whitehaven, followed by a first-rate performance in a Northern Rail triumph against Hunslet Hawks.

Weak second-half defence cost them dearly at Halifax, however, and Roughyeds again had their fans wondering what was going on when conceding three tries in five minutes and four in ten during an awful first-half spell in a 29-20 defeat by Swinton Lions yesterday.

“A couple of decisions went against us, and heads dropped,” said Benson. “That’s becoming something of a problem. We fell off our game for 15 minutes, just like we did at Halifax, and we got punished for it.

“Swinton, a good side, can score tries from anywhere, but we showed in the second half that we can contain them. We took a good look at ourselves at half-time, when we trailed 20-6, and there was improvement in the second half, but we had left ourselves too much to do.

“The second half wasn’t great, but it was a lot better than the first. The bounce of the ball didn’t go our way, but it rarely does if a side isn’t on top of its game.

“I can’t fault the effort, but we did some dumb things at crucial times. I was reasonably happy with some of the stuff we did. Swinton are a good side, but every team can be beaten and we should have beaten them.

“We’ve got a couple of games to get things right (before the start of the league programme) and I’m sure we will.

“Individually, some of the guys did well. Junior (Marcus St Hilaire) didn’t know he was going to have his first game of the season until Saturday morning, but he had a fine game. So did some of the young props.

“Neil (Roden) needs to have players pushing through around him to be at his best and that didn’t happen in the first half. In the second half it did, Neil looked better for it, things began to happen and we started to score tries.

“We are learning a long, slow lesson, but it’s early days yet and I’m sure we’ll learn it and be all the better for learning it.”

His Swinton counterpart Steve McCormack said: “Swinton have traditionally struggled in games against Oldham — I think this ends a run of 12 Oldham wins — so I’m naturally very pleased to have won this one.

“Oldham are a well-drilled side with a good squad. We came up with a good performance against a very good side. We’ll be meeting again in the league, of course, and you can rest assured that Oldham will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

“There will be no easy games in our division. Every single game will be a tough one.”