LIVERPOOL COLLEGIATE 13, OLDHAM RUFC 12
OLDHAM RUFC suffered a sixth straight defeat in the ADM Premier Division following the narrowest of losses at Liverpool Collegiate.
It was a match of fine margins, but Oldham not for the first time ended up on the wrong side of the line after a controversial late penalty conceded sealed their downfall.
Coach Jimmy Forster said: “We controlled much of the second half and deserved victory having played the better rugby.
“It sounds sour grapes but, in my opinion, some poor key decisions from the referee and some lack of control from ourselves cost us the game.
“What must be said is that Oldham played some good rugby, and the returning players galvanised the team. Phil Whitham had his best game at scrum half giving great ball and making sniping breaks around the ruck and Adam Takila was outstanding all over the pitch.
“Sometimes the luck doesn’t go your way, but that’s rugby.”
A pitch inspection by the home club and some serious forking made sure the game went ahead.
Earlier in the week, Oldham had 22 players but by kick off were down to 17 with Jack Sayle struggling with injury but putting his hand up to sit on the bench and 18-year-old Marshall Yates chomping at the bit to make his debut from the replacements. A welcomed return of Tom Davies and Josh Watson bolstered the back line with Whittam and Alexsander Kurkiewicz stepping up from the bench for the late cry offs.
The start of the first half was an arm wrestle before the first points came courtesy from a charge down from Collegiate of an Oldham clearance in their 22. The Collegiate backs were quicker to react and got to the ball first to touchdown and with the conversion kicked they led 7-0.
Oldham eventually started firing and began to take control in the forwards. Nick Hackman started at prop after some work on the machine at training in the week and this clearly paid off with the Oldham pack moving the opposition back at every scrum.
Three times close to the line, Collegiate collapsed the scrum, yet there was no yellow card from the referee.
Oldham then breached the Collegiate line with some good play from the pack which led to Ryan Pickles picking up and going through a number of the opposition to reach a long arm over the line to reduce the deficit to 7-5. The conversion was missed.
Collegiate were not offering a great deal up front but Oldham then gave three points to the opposition. A clearance landed well into the Oldham half and a late tackle on the kicker gave Collegiate an easy penalty to give them a 10-5 interval lead.
The game was still very much in the balance and Oldham would have the advantage of the wind in the second period.
The directions were simple, play in the opposition half and force the mistakes. The returning Davies showed what they had been missing with two 50-20s and generally moving Oldham well around the park.
Oldham took the lead when Tom Hannon carried a few opposition players over with him after again following great lead up play in the right from Oldham. Jordan McEwan kicked the conversion to put them 12-10 ahead.
They had chances to move further in front with Pickles ending short of the line with the referee mysteriously stopping play mid flow. Rob Froggatt then made a trademark run and went over the try line. The referee was stood next to him on the line but did not award the touchdown which again mystified Oldham.
Yates came on for his debut to give Hannon a well-earned rest.
Collegiate snatched victory with 30 seconds left through a controversial penalty.
Following a scrum, Collegiate kicked through and Oldham picked up on their 22 to secure the ball. From the ruck, where Oldham took it in and with two Collegiate players playing it on the ground, the referee blew his whistle.
Oldham were convinced they were getting a penalty, but it was given to Collegiate for holding on.
Their stand-off stepped up and kicked it and, with seconds left, they were unable to retrieve the ball.