The final weekend of the season had arrived, and a strange season it had been for the thirds; many games had been postponed due to the bad weather, resulting in a busy end of season run. Oldham had put in some good performances, but lacked the consistency to stay at the top end of the table. However, for the final match, the thirds were looking forward to going out on a high. Manchester had proved a strong side on both previous encounters this season (one of them a cup game), but Oldham had taken the win on both occasions. Three out of three was looking good for Oldham. Oldham had a good squad for the game although were nearly let down by some players (who should know better!) who went to North Manchester and wondering why there was nobody there!
The pitch was very soft and muddy with standing water in a number of areas, but this does not usually prove unfavourable to the older legs of Oldham 3rds. However from the kick off, it was Manchester who had the upper hand, with much of the play in the first quarter being in the Oldham half. Both teams struggled to keep possession, partially due to difficult handling conditions, but Manchester made the best use of their ball, and had two tries on the board in the first fifteen minutes. It looked like it may be a long game for Oldham, but then a well spotted interception by Phil Graham resulted in him running under the posts to score Oldham’s first try. This was converted by Danny Simpson.
This improved Oldham’s confidence and ten minutes later, a quick interchange between Paul Blomfield and Nick McDowell resulted in McDowell scoring Oldham’s second try. Manchester scored another two tries in the half and went into half time with a solid lead. However Coach for the day Iain MacCorquodale gave Oldham a stern team talk during the break and Oldham came out for the second half with a much better attitude.
Manchester scored first in the second half after a handling mistake from Captain Kevin Golland near the Oldham try line, but Golland then atoned for his mistake with a good sprint down the wing to open Oldham’s account in this period. From this point forward, Oldham had the upper hand, and kept Manchester under pressure. Oldham had a number of near tries, including a great drive through the forwards from Tom Hannon, and then two further tries from Phil Graham sealed the result for Oldham. In the last two minutes, Danny Simpson sneaked up the right wing for the final try of the game, giving Oldham a convincing win.
Final Score: Manchester 3rds 26 v Oldham 3rds 36
Man of the Match was shared by Paul Blomfield and Nick McDowell for consistent quality play, particularly in the second half, and excellent decision making.