Tony’s thoughts about Swinton defeat

Date published: Monday, March 28, 2011

TONY Benson attributed his side’s 68-24 drubbing by Swinton to two major factors — a shortage of experience in the Roughyeds’ ranks and the Lions’ quality performance.

John Gillam, Ben Heaton, Luke Sutton, Marcus St Hilaire, Neil Roden and Tom Wood-Hulme had to sit this one out due to injury or illness on the very day that Roughyeds went head to head with arguably the best and strongest side in the division.

Eight of the 17 players in Oldham jerseys were local lads, five of the eight were aged 21 or under and there were debuts by former Saddleworth Rangers winger Shaun Robinson and ex-Hollinwood centre Alistair Williams.

Robinson, a late call-up from the Reserves, trained with the squad for the first time on Saturday morning, while Benson had no option but to play Danny Whitmore, a hooker, at outside-half — one of the key play-making positions.

Whitmore played his heart out and Robinson had a blinder, but this Oldham side just couldn’t live with the hugely-experienced Lions who were in a different class once they had recovered from the shock of going 12-0 down inside 10 minutes and realising they would have to play a bit.

Said Benson: “The debutants came through well and I was proud of them. I wasn’t proud of the score, but we need to take off our hats to Swinton before we look at us.

“The second half was 18 minutes old before we touched the ball and it was a similar story in the last 20 minutes of the first half. Swinton didn’t give us a sniff of the ball in those two periods and you’ve got to give them credit for that.

“When we had most of the ball in the first 20 we scored two tries and could easily have had at least one more. Then we scored twice again in the last period of the game.

“In the 20 minutes either side of half-time, though, they terrorised us. We fell apart. But you can’t keep defending against a side like Swinton without running into a spot of bother. They knew what they were doing and where to attack us.

“Our set completion rate was high at 90 per cent, but it was 90 per cent of not very much because we had so little of the ball and an enormous amount of tackling to do.

“Shaun Robinson had a superb debut. They tried to put him under pressure but he turned it round and put them under pressure. It didn’t surprise me because I’ve watched him in the Reserves and I had every confidence in him.

“We’ve been knocked down big style, but it isn’t how you fall that matters; it’s how you get up again. We’ll stay strong as a group and prepare for the next challenge at Keighley next week.

“The fans, by the way, were terrific. It isn’t easy to stay positive when your team is getting a flogging, but they stuck behind us and we were very appreciative of that.”

Lions’ director and former coach Paul Kidd said: “When we were 12-0 down we would have glady taken a 13-12 win. The score didn’t reflect the game. We got a roll on, but if Oldham had scored again at 12-0 it would have been a different ball game.”