ALDWINIANS 24, OLDHAM RUFC 22
OLDHAM RUFC were left to reflect on what might have been as they were edged out by only two points in a closely contested ADM Premier Division derby at Aldwinians.
A couple of controversial refereeing decisions proved costly in a game of such small margins which on another day might have gone their way.
Though Oldham remain third bottom with two games left, coach Jimmy Forster described it as possibly the most structured rugby his team had played this season.
Oldham, who named a squad of 19 but lost Josh Watson on the Saturday morning to another injury curse, made a great start establishing a 10-0 lead.
From a lineout on the Aldwinians 22, Jordan McEwan went through a gap and with a lovely inside pass found Adam Takila who touched down for a near flawless start for Oldham. Alex Jobson, who has made a big difference to the back line since returning, kicked the extras and Oldham were 7-0 ahead.
Oldham continued to gain momentum with some more good play and only some last-ditch defence prevented them scoring another two tries.
The pressure Oldham were putting on led to a penalty mid-half and Jobson added the points to make it 10-0.
Aldwinians finally then woke up from the kick off and worked their way back into the game. They had the measure of Oldham at scrums and had some good runners around the ruck.
They scored from a lineout five metres out, but the referee did not award it for which no one really knew why. They did score, though, just before the break beating Oldham for numbers on the side of a ruck to reduce the deficit to 10-7.
The second half started well for Oldham with pressure again exerted on Aldwinians’ line and Ryan Pickles made a dart down the blind side before giving an exquisite out the back door pass for Phil Whitham to dive over to extend the lead to 15-7.
Oldham could not get hold or keep possession giving penalties away at the breakdown when they didn’t really need to. This gave Aldwinians the chance which they took with a converted try and penalty to boot which took the score to 17-15 for the hosts.
A melee after the try led to Ryan Arundale being handed a yellow card and during the time with an extra man Aldwinians scored again. The talking point of the day then came when the conversion was clearly missed. The touch judges did not raise their flags, but the referee gave it as they led 24-15.
Oldham were still trying to get some quality ball and they pressured Aldwinians on their 10-metre line as Jobson kicked through and collected the ball to score in the corner. A touch line conversion made it 24-22.
With a couple of minutes to go, Oldham had a line out on the Aldwinians 22 and caught and drove. With a home player coming in at the side to drop the maul everyone expected an Oldham penalty that didn’t arrive which could have given them victory.
Forster reflected: “What can be said is that you shouldn’t blame a referee for the outcome of a game and as a team you have to do enough to take these variables away and you should do enough without them. Oldham didn’t.
“However, they played probably the most structured that they have played all year. The ball movement was much better with the backs looking dangerous with ball in hand. “
Oldham have two games left and their final home league fixture is against Eccles on Saturday (April 2, 2.15pm).