The 3rds game this weekend was the first one for six weeks due to match fixture cancellations in December because of unplayable pitches. So there were likely to be cobwebs to be cleared for all the players. Fortunately, numbers were good for all three Club games this weekend, and the thirds set out with a full squad. Spartans turned out one short, so thanks go to Jon Maslen and John Charlton who played half a game each for Spartans in order to ensure they had a competitive front row. On the day, conditions were remarkably good for the time of year. It was a sunny day and the pitch was very playable, especially considering the challenges the Knott Lanes pitch can sometimes present in the Winter.
From the kick off, Oldham made a determined start, putting pressure on Spartans immediately. After three minutes of Oldham’s multi-phase possession in the Spartans half, Chris Brown carried the ball over for Oldham’s first try, and he also converted for a seven point lead. Spartans found it difficult to recover, and the pattern of play continued in the same vein, this time being rewarded after eleven minutes by a try from Mike Green in the left corner. The play was all Oldham’s at this stage, and in the eighteenth minute, Harry Ravenscroft scored the opening try of his first-half hat trick with a skilful run through the centres from the Spartans 22m line. Three minutes later he had his second with a longer run through the middle from the Spartans 10m line, this one converted by Chris Brown, and in the twenty fifth minute he made a forty meter run down the right wing to score his third. Spartans were unable to threaten Oldham with any vigour. They challenged well in the tackle area, often turning over Oldham’s ball, but were unable to make significant ground with any consistency. The final Oldham try of the half came from Jason Green after thirty seven minutes, with a solo weaving run through the midfield showing great footwork and wrong-footing the defence. This try was converted by Chris Brown. Spartans had a final flourish on the stroke of half time with a try in Oldham’s far corner, and the half time score was 36-5.
In the second half, Spartans came out determined and had a better share of the possession, moving the ball about more and breaking Oldham’s line more frequently. However, tries remained elusive for them for much of the half. Oldham opened their account in the second half with a try from Nick McDowell after eight minutes, the characteristic sidestep proving too much for the opposing defenders. Thirteen minutes in, young Zak Booth scored a try after being substituted on at half time, again converted by Chris Brown. Half an hour in Sean Barratt scored a try with a great effort from just inside the Spartans half, beating four defenders, again converted by Chris Brown. Spartans scored their only try of the half three minutes from the end, and then the game finished with a fourth try from Harry Ravenscroft, converted by Chris Brown.
The final score was 62-10, a great showing from Oldham 3rds. Oldham could have had another three or four tries if they had capitalised on their overlaps in the backs in the second half, and this is something for them to work on going forward. Man of the Match went to Harry Ravenscroft for a great performance including four tries. Chris Brown was also a contender for an excellent kicking display and some great tackling.