Weather Icon 5.1°C Partly Cloudy
Roughyeds romp to victory – but play-off spot still not assured
Tuesday 4th September 2018 @ 09:59 by Mark Phillip
Sports

Betfred League One

OLDHAM 58
COVENTRY BEARS 6

Oldham scored ten tries and took this one in their stride. Now for the big test, against Betfred League 1 leaders York City Knights at their place on Sunday.

With only three games left and Hunslet breathing down their necks, Roughyeds desperately need to inflict York’s third defeat of the season to keep their spot in the play-off qualifiers.

When the City Knights came to the Vestacare Stadium way back in early March they snatched a 24-22 win in a thrilling classic that could easily have gone either way.

Since then they’ve gone from strength to strength while Scott Naylor’s men, following a great run of eight wins on the spin, have lost their early-season edge in winning only five of their last ten games.

To say they are down in fifth position with a mountain to climb to hang on to a play-off spot, it is revealing to note that, outside of the top two, they have scored more points than any other side in the division; conceded fewer than any of their rivals; and boast the best for-and-against difference by a country mile.

That’s because they’ve scored freely against lower opposition, the Coventry game being a typical example, but have lost several close games to fellow northern clubs by a mere handful of points.

Seven of their eight league defeats have been by eight points or fewer so they are most certainly due to edge a tight one.

To do it at York, arguably the best side in the competition, they will have to respect possession much more clinically than they did in the Coventry game.

Despite returning the ball to Coventry on many occasions, either by loose carries, poor passes or lapses of concentration, they ran in tries by Jack Holmes (2), Craig Briscoe, Danny Langtree (2), Matty Wilkinson (2), Luke Hooley, Ben West and Phil Joy.

Coming off the bench, hooker Wilkinson had a blinder with his incisive running from dummy half and was full value for his man-of-the-match prize.

As well as scoring two himself, he was the principal provider in four more.

Full-back Luke Hooley also caught the eye in the way he linked up with the backs on attack and made good use of the ball to benefit colleagues.

Winger Lee Kershaw also impressed in the backs, while it was encouraging to see the three ‘middles’ off the bench, Luke Nelmes, Ben Davies and Adam Jones all making impacts when they got their chance.

Paul Crook landed seven conversions from eight attempts before he and Langtree were pulled off, presumably with the York game in mind.

Hooley took over as marksman and kicked two from two, the first off the right-hand touchline to improve a try by West in the corner.

The big test now for the Roughyeds is to lift their game, tighten up in possession, cut out their infringements and penalties against and go to York primed to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the season.

Team v Coventry: Hooley; West, Holmes, Rasool, Kershaw; Crook, Owen; Neal, Hughes, Joy, Briscoe, Langtreee, Spencer. Subs: Jones, Wilkinson, Nelmes, Davies.

Ref: J McMullen; Att: 374.

By Roger Halstead