This weekend Oldham Vets/3rds travelled for the first time in a number of weeks to play Marple thirds who re-joined the league in recent weeks to replace Eccles 3rds. The weather had been poor during the week so it was anybody’s guess what the conditions on the day would be like, but the afternoon of the game was dry, and the pitch was very soft but well drained.
Oldham had a strong start to the game with pressure quickly applied deep into Marple’s territory. But Oldham couldn’t find consistent accuracy with which to finish their advances with a score. The team were well matched in the forwards, although Oldham’s scrum was often under pressure. But Marple’s key strength was in their defence, effectively retrieving balls kicked over them to build an attack, and resisting Oldham’s strong runners with a high success rate in the tackles. The game became very even; a classic third team arm wrestle. But Oldham broke the deadlock after twenty five minutes when Craig Geddy made good ground running diagonally outwards, passing to winger Dave Ashton after crossing the half way line, and Ashton ran back inside to beat the Marple defence and score a try in his first league appearance for Oldham. This was the only score in the half, and the half time score was 0-5.
The second half ran even closer than the first. Neither team could find the finish or the break which would make an impression on the game, except for a disallowed try when Keith Chadwick ran the ball over the line, only to be brought back for a Marple penalty on the twenty two. After a tense finish and seven minutes extra played, the final whistle confirmed Oldham as the victors. It had been a great team effort but Man of the Match went to Harry Ravenscroft who made a great contribution throughout the game.