The Oldham 3rds returned to Manor Park for their second home fixture of the season, fresh from an impressive win away against Carrington 2nds the previous week. Conditions were excellent for rugby with a superb playing surface on the Knott Lanes pitch, a cool and dry afternoon with a light breeze. Oldham had a full squad with strength in both forwards and backs, and were looking forward to a competitive game and a positive outcome.
On the day it became known that Rochdale 3rds didn’t have a game, and therefore it was expected that their 4ths would arrive with a strengthened team; this appeared to be the case from the off.
Rochdale kicked off and Oldham immediately advanced working the ball from right to left and up to the Rochdale twenty two. Unfortunately, in their haste to continue recycling and advancing, Oldham lost the ball and the Rochdale backs seized the opportunity, running in a long try after the game had only been running for two minutes, and then converting. Oldham started again, still with confidence, and this time were rewarded for their efforts when Rochdale gave away a penalty just inside their twenty-two, and Oldham elected to kick, Rhys Jones successfully doing so to put Oldham on the board.
The game became very close, and at times fractious. Rochdale had two yellow cards, and were fortunate with one of them that it wasn’t a straight red as Alan Pierre was taken out in the air without the ball, resulting in him coming down heavily with a bad landing. Oldham were next to gain an advantage when Kenny Rowlands ran in a textbook winger’s blindside try. The conversion didn’t go over, but Oldham had their noses in front. Rochdale soon replied though with another converted try of their own. At half time the score was 8-14.
In the second half, Oldham continued to play with spirit, but Rochdale started to edge away and Oldham didn’t have an answer. Throughout the game, Oldham had had the upper hand in the scrum, but once Rochdale were under pressure in their own twenty-two, they called uncontested, and this neutralised Oldham’s main weapon. The game was full of penalties, and numerous occasions where an advantage could have been played for both sides, but the game was not able to maintain the continuity that both sides would have preferred. Rochdale had the upper had overall, and the final score was 8-29. It was a proud performance from Oldham though, and the game had been closer than the result suggested.
Man of the Match this week went to Jack Sayle, who showed class throughout in both set piece and open play.
Dick of the Day was awarded to Bob Webster. He was apprehended by the Referee in the first half of the game for entering a ruck in a ‘swimming’ style with arms flailing wildly. Bob dutifully claimed to be innocent of the charge but the Referee was unimpressed. Numerous theories were propounded as to what Bob may have been doing at the time, one of them being that he was trying to find a bind but impeded by his deteriorating eyesight.