Widness 22 – 28 Reserves

Date published: Sunday, July 3, 2011

MICHAEL Ward spoke of his “magic moment” after scoring an opportunist try in the dying seconds that gave Roughyeds Reserves a well-deserved 28-22 win at Widnes to stretch the winning streak of Houghie’s Heroes to five matches.

The Oldham triumph also inflicted a season’s first defeat on leaders Widnes, who led for most of the game but failed to shake off a never-say-die performance from the resilient Roughyeds.

As a thriller edged into its closing minutes the scores were locked up at 22-22 with Oldham pressing for a last-gasp winner. It looked as though their big chance had perhaps gone when Danny Langtree knocked-on, but from the resultant scrum in the Widnes 20 Vikings scrum-half Grant Gore went for glory with a last-play kick downfield.

Ward, breaking quickly from the pack, got a foot to the ball and it bounced up kindly for him to gallop gleefully to the line, where he was mobbed by his congratulatory and excited team mates.

“It was a magic moment,” said Ward. “I saw their fellow shape to kick and stuck out my foot. The next thing I knew the ball was in my hands and all I had to do was run to the line. It was fantastic.”

Jamie Dallimore kicked the goal, and it was all over.

To show what an exciting and evenly-balanced game it was you need look no further than the scoring sequence (Widnes scores first): 6-0, 6-6, 12-6, 12-12, 12-14, 18-14, 18-18, 22-18, 22-22, 22-28.

Said coach John Hough: “If we fancy our chances of finishing near the top we’ve got to live with teams like Widnes. We struggled a bit in the first half, but we spoke at half-time about upping our game a little bit and playing with a bit more enthusiasm and self-belief and we got that in abundance in the second half.

“The performance and the result were really pleasing, but we are not getting carried away because this win will count for nothing if we don’t do the business again in five days time when we play Featherstone at Whitebank on Thursday night.

“At this stage we are not getting too concerned about where we might, or might not, finish. We are concentrating on each game as it comes and everything else will take care of itself.”

A beaming Paul Ashton, his No 2, added: “I’m thrilled because it was great to see the boys do so well in my home town.”

It was a personal triumph also for skipper Jamie Knight, who goes about his sterling work in the second row match after match, often producing engine-room graft which doesn’t get the public recognition it deserves.

In a tight game played in sunshine that was more like the Mediterranean than Merseyside, Vkings scored two first-half tries by Gore, both of them made by forward busts up the middle, the first by Alex Gerrard and the second by Jack Smith.

Oldham’s only reply was a touchdown in the corner by centre Chris Headen after a powerful drive for the line by Matty Barber caused the home defence out wide to be stretched to breaking point. Dallimore added a cracking goal from the touchline.

Barber and Kenny Hughes went close for Oldham again early in the second half before pressure told when Dallimore sent half-back partner Tom Connick in for the second Roughyeds try.

As Oldham began to get on top a Dallimore kick forced Vikings to drop out from under their own posts. They were then guilty of a high tackle and Dallimore stepped up to land his third goal for a 14-12 lead.

After that it was nip and tuck. A clever kick by Gore had Oldham in bother and from the next scrum Widnes moved the ball wide at speed to the right where winger Johnny Youds slid over in the corner.

Winger Zak Cotton scored next for Oldham, crossing in the corner to supplement the hard work of his forwards. Dallimore couldn’t convert this one and when Vikings crossed the Oldham line again in the 67th minute they led 22-18.

At that stage both Connick and Tom Wood-Hulme were held on the line, but the pressure finally told when Cotton squeezed in for his second try to make it level pegging at 22-22 with six minutes left and all to play for.

Drama followed at both ends of the field before that last-gasp incident which produced the Ward winner.

Oldham scorers: goals, Dallimore (4); tries, Headen, Connick, Cotton (2), Ward.

OLDHAM: Nield; Cotton, Headen, Cookson, Williams; Connick, Dallimore; Joy, Dean, Eyres, Ward, Knight, Thompson. Subs: Hughes, Langtree, Wood-Hulme, Barber.

Widnes: Wakefield; Crompton, Crowley, Scott, Youds; Reid, Gore; Houghton, Lunt, Gerrard, Cunningham, Kelly, Thompson. Subs: Clarke, Smith, Kinsey, Stokes.

Referee: Joe Cobb (Leigh).