OLDHAM RUFC 13, WEST PARK (ST HELENS) 33
The form book ran true as Oldham RUFC were beaten at home by West Park (St Helens) in the ADM Premier Division.
West Park are almost certain of a top-three finish while Oldham have been battling relegation in recent times, though that appears to have been won.
It was cold with a strong wind blowing from the west as West Park commenced proceedings. It quickly became apparent that Oldham were up for the fight as they took an early lead through a Ryan Arundale try.
As West Park settled into the game, they began to take advantage of the elements and a strong wind, and some large accurate boots regularly pinned Oldham in their own territory.
But the Oldham defence was organised and aggressive and they managed to keep West Park at bay despite considerable pressure.
The Oldham defending was such that West Park chose to have a shot at a penalty, but hit the post and Oldham retained their 5-0 lead, even when reduced to 14 players for 10 minutes following a yellow card for dissent.
Oldham had just survived the10 minute yellow card period when they fell 7-5 behind to a converted try and West Park added another unconverted try just before the break as the half ended with the visitors 12-5 ahead.
Though it was a fast-paced game and West Park were full of energy, Oldham never looked second best and were well in the game.
However, the fates conspired against Oldham as the second half began as the wind dropped, and they lost a couple of influential forwards through injury.
Oldham maintained their good form and it was no surprise when they reduced the deficit to 12-10 through an unconverted Josh Watson try.
As the Oldham side began to tire, West Park started to find gaps especially around the breakdown and make ground down the middle of the pitch. The pressure eventually told when they scored a converted try to lead 19-10.
As the game entered the last 10 minutes, Oldham were still very much in the contest, but points proved hard to come by. Alex Jobson got the ball in space and kicked ahead with the line begging but was obstructed.
Oldham wondered whether a penalty try and card would be awarded but it turned out to be just a penalty. They opted for a scrum which led to another penalty and another scrum. This time as Oldham marched forward Ryan Pickles touched down and with a few minutes left they were right back in it at 19-15 down.
But the tanks were now more or less empty and the visitors took full advantage scoring a couple of further tries to secure a bonus point win with the final score 33-15.
The late tries probably flattered the visitors who were nonetheless worthy winners, and you could see why they are near the top of the table.
As for Oldham, this was probably their best 75 minutes of rugby this season. They were physical and competitive, moved the ball wide and their tackling was generally good for most of the game. There were just a few unforced errors that the visitors took advantage of.
- Oldham have a tough match on Saturday (March 19) at leaders Didsbury Toc H who have won all 18 league games.