1st September saw Oldham thirds blowing off the summer cobwebs for a run out in a friendly against North Manchester, a team which has just joined Nowirul Division 5 East. This was a good opportunity to re-form the team and bring in any longer absent players and new members. Leo McNally from the Colts was welcomed to the team , and Matt Burgess was welcomed back after a two year absence. Conditions on the day consisted of glorious sunshine and hardly any breeze; great for spectators but not ideal for rugby, along with a Knott Lanes pitch which was very green but hard underfoot. It was agreed before the start the game would be played in four quarters to allow for drinks breaks in the heat.
North Manchester kicked off and put Oldham under pressure immediately, turning the ball over within the first minute. They drove forward hard using a well organised pack, causing Oldham to scramble going backwards, and when the ball went to their centres Oldham’s defensive line was broken, enabling North Manchester to score their first try. Two further tries from North Manchester followed in the next ten minutes and Oldham were very much on the back foot against a strong and fit North Manchester fifteen. Oldham’s first chance came from a break by Jack Taylor from which he scored Oldham’s first try.
In the second half, Oldham gathered themselves and the game became closer. The Oldham pack were more in the game and competing well for the ball, although always under pressure from the North Manchester second and back row. North Manchester still had the edge, but Oldham did have two scoring opportunities towards the end, one from Paul Blomfield, which was scored, conversion by Nick McDowell and the other from new youngster McNally following a great break down the right wing, sadly tackled just before the line. The final score was 12 – 45, and Oldham were pleased with their performance against a North Manchester team which clearly featured a number of first team regulars.
Oldham thirds look forward to the first league game of the season next week away against Bury 3rds.