What Scott said…..

Date published: Monday, September 16, 2013

THOUGH it took a long-range drop goal by Paul Crook in the last minute to separate the sides, Oldham boss Scott Naylor readily conceded that Rochdale were the better side in mastering dreadful conditions.

Incessant rain and strong winds made expansive rugby impossible at a cold and drenched Whitebank, the outcome of this play-off semi-final qualifier hinging on which side best performed the basics —- set completion, an astute kicking game, an ability to gain and maintain good field position and a kick-chase that could force errors.

Said a disappointed Naylor: “We were aware of the weather forecast, so we planned in advance for what was to come, but Rochdale played the conditions and did the little things a bit better than we did.

“That was the difference — that and a bloke called Paul Crook.”

He added: “Crook’s kicking was outstanding. He was the difference between the sides. Congratulations to Rochdale. They played the right rugby on the day.

“We made too many mistakes when coming away from our own line and we gifted Rochdale field position from the first minute to the last. That cost us the game.

“On a day like today it was always going to be about field position, but we didn’t play the game we set out to play and we paid for it.

“Play-off rugby is all about doing the right things on the day. Rochdale did that a little bit better than we did.

“There isn’t a lot between us. It’s 3-2 to us now over the five games we’ve had with them this season and we each seem to do better when playing away.

“We’ve now to put this behind us quickly, because we have another big game next Sunday against another quality side in London Skolars.”

Hornets coach Ian Talbot said the whole club was “made up” with this win, which takes the men in red, white and blue to the final at Leigh Sports Village on September 29 against the winners of next Sunday’s Oldham v London clash.

He went on: “We set our goal at the start of the season as winning promotion and now we’re only 80 minutes away from it.

“We’ve got the luxury of a week off and that’s something we need after two very tough play-off games, beating London by two points and Oldham by one.

“The conditions played a massive part in this latest tie. Paul Crook’s kicking was the difference, but we toughed it out on a day when the wind and rain were great levellers and we couldn’t play our normal expansive game.

“We had to shut up shop, play mistake-free rugby and respect possession, and I thought we did that pretty well.

“A lot of the tries were the direct result of kicks and errors — it was that sort of day — but Crook came up trumps with his kicking and in the forwards I thought Joe Greenwood was absolutely fantastic.”