Whitehaven 40 – 24 Oldham

Date published: Tuesday, April 26, 2011

HIT by injuries and not having fully recovered from an exhausting display in beating Rochdale 38-6 in Good Friday’s sweltering heat, we were not at our best up at Whitehaven on Easter Monday when we went down 40-24 to a side which is always difficult to conquer at the Recreation Ground.

We struggled defensively in the first half when the Cumbrians scored five tries to lead 24-12 at half-time, although Mark Brocklehurst fashioned a try for Lucas Onyango early in the second half and Carl Forber’s wide-angled goal put us only one score down at 24-18.

We were well on track at that stage to pick up, at the very least, a bonus point, if not more, but the game went away from us after a series of events culminating in Brocklehurst being placed on report for a possible ‘spear’ tackle, John Clough and Whitehaven’s Spencer Miller going in the sin-bin for ‘wrestling’ and Jason Boults getting sent off for allegedly speaking out of turn to referee Matthew Kidd.

Sent off for the first time in a long professional career, Jason later protested his innocence and said that, although he did make a remark, it was directed not at the referee but at a Whitehaven player.

Dave Ellison was once again our stand-out player. He scored two tries, the first of which was an absolute beauty in which he smashed through the defensive ranks just inside the ‘Haven half. Coming up to the full-back, he saw that his support on both sides was covered so he sidestepped the last defender and crashed over near the posts with two defenders on his back.

Neil Roden grabbed our second try from close range in the 25th minute, but we were caught out down the flanks far too often for comfort and if the Cumbrians were not hitting us hard out wide they blitzed us from dummy half. Lively home hooker Chris Smith scored a hat-trick of tries, two of them by capitalising on a slow-to-regroup defence and showing a superb turn of pace to make it to the line.

It wasn’t a good day for us but, as Tony B said later, we must now put that game behind us and focus on the next game against Doncaster at Whitebank on Sunday — our last home game for six weeks.

Scorers: Whitehaven — goals, Palfrey (6); tries, Calvert (2), Smith (3), McAvoy, Culnean; Oldham — goals, Forber (4); tries, Ellison (2), N Roden, Onyango.

Whitehaven: Benson; Fleming, Wiper, McAvoy, Calvert; Palfry, Rudd; Ford, Smith, Farrer, Miller, Doran, Beattie. Subs: Sice, Hill, Culnean, Isakka.

Oldham: Heaton; Onyango, Brocklehurst, Bradbuy, Robinson; N Roden, Forber; Boults, Clough, Ellison, Wood, Noone, M Roden. Subs: Stenchion, Bentley, Whitmore, Sutton.

Referee: Mr M Kidd; Att: 737.