Team commitment

Date published: Tuesday, July 26, 2011

JUBILANT coach Tony Benson said Oldham’s impressive 36-14 win against second-placed Keighley Cougars was down to total individual and collective commitment . . . and tactics that were spot-on.

Choosing not to identify outstanding individuals “because it was a team effort with a capital T”, the Roughyeds boss said he was proud of all 17 players for their prowess on attack and their gutsy determination in defence.

It was, he said, their willingness and ability to stick to the game plan from first minute to last that knocked the Cougars out of their stride and harassed them into making mistakes and conceding penalties — 15 in total.

“Keighley are no mugs,” he added. “They went into this game second in the table, and they weren’t there by chance. If you let them play they are dangerous right across the park.

“But we felt sure that we had correctly identified the sort of rugby they would employ to try to break us down and we prepared for the game accordingly. It was a tough game to prepare for, but we were bang on. Our defence had to be spot-on, and it was.

“It won the contest for us, and it frustrated the hell out of the opposition. They put down a lot of ball, especially in the second half, and according to our statisticians they didn’t complete a single set after half time until the last five minutes when we conceded a couple of penalties and they went in for that late consolation try.

“The fact that Cougars had one forward sent to the bin in the second half and another one dismissed tells its own tale; they were seriously rattled.

“It was a tough, tough game, physical and fast. We made 180 tackles and only missed nine. And I was particularly pleased by the fact that, whenever we used our replacements off the bench, the operation continued like clockwork with no noticeable difference either with or without the ball.

“The test for us now will be to get up again and reach the same standards against Workington at Whitebank next Sunday, but there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do that.

“Each player was clear about the job he had to do and each player did it to perfection.

“We had spoken in the days leading up to the game about the importance of teamwork in defence and how good it can feel collectively when the hard work is put in and you get the rewards. I can honestly say that the boys are actually enjoying their defensive work, and enjoying it immensely. That was so evident on the field.

“To beat Keighley so convincingly was pretty special — and I can’t speak too highly about the squad’s desire, determination and attitude.”

The club’s official man-of-the-match award, chosen by sponsors, went to two-try full-back Ben Heaton, while chairman Chris Hamilton gave the champagne-moment award to centre Mark McCully for the massive role he played in the build-up to Oldham’s first try, scored by Neil Roden.

Said Chris: “It took us four attempts to sign this chap, but we got him in the end. It took him a couple of games to settle in, but he’s playing now like we knew he could. He had a superb game today.”

Replied McCully: “Tony (Benson) gave us a game plan and we stuck to it. It’s a great set-up here. I’m enjoying my rugby and I’m sure we can go on and make an impact in the play-offs.”