The games and merriment off organizing this week’s team sheet and events started well before the kick off at Wythenshaw at 3 pm on Saturday 22nd September venue MEA. The night before meant secretary Nick Middleton had to find out what was suitable foot wear for playing 4g or is 3g astro turf most 3rd team players only knowing 3G was what worked on their old Nokia 3610 ! As the various what’s app corresponance was discussed on the captain’s forum the only good information to gain was that molded studs were the best type off foot wear to be used on astro but as most off the old boys in the 3rds had metal studs a phone call for Nick M to their secretary had to take place. A valuable observation did however come to lite about studs. Are studs kitemarked or hallmarked? the later was felt to be true answer due to the fact many off the team members in the 3rds where all gold diggers!
The fact that this week’s game was the third consecutive away game in 3 weeks, meant the team numbers for the 3rd team travelling to top off the table team who have had some high scoring results meant that the game even before kickoff was going to be a tall order especially with the older members off the team normally only used to rolling about in mud on a Saturday afternoon now having to get used to Astro turf!
The normal mayhem was not to be broken for the 3rd team members when directions via the web page post code meant they arrived at a gate some quarter a mile down the road from the venue but as always, a team was assembled some 5 minutes before the start off the game and last off the team member arriving as the whistle blew to start the game.
Although the team haven’t played many games on astro turf over the years it’s not with great fondness that the team can recall many wins on the surface having lost games at Cardiff, Rosslyn park, Sale, Burnage over the time. This was no different at Wythenshaw and it was obvious from the start off the game, the lighter and younger Wythenshaw team would take full advantage . The Wythenshaw team took the lead in the first ten minutes with two try’s which were scored by their wing forward and by the right winger who out passed the Oldham defense to dot down under the posts. Everybody new that it was going to be a long old day for the Oldham team as both tries where converted by their no 10 who had an excellent day with the boot was making a statement from the start. To make matters worse Kevin Golland had to leave the field at that moment with a damaged foot which meant the one sub Oldham had Jack Smith was thrown into the game at center. Kev get well soon pal!
It was also obvious in the first 10 minutes that the referee would struggle to keep up with play and due to this some very strange decisions where awarded which both sides struggled with throughout the game. One area which was a real bone of contention was the scrum as the referee ignored the opponents feeding and penalized Oldham scrum on numerous occasions for foot up whilst striking the ball fairly which meant Oldham played most off the 15-20 minutes in their own half which resulted in the third try being scored by the no 8 from a scrum and being converted.
As normal the Oldham players rallied after the opening 20 minutes which meant some sustained pressure and direct running which did show that there was some hope for the visitors and this did show itself after some great runs through the center from David Ashton and Jack smith which resulted in John Charlton picking up some 5 meters out from the ruck and going over between the sticks. The kick being converted by Matt Dyson.
Oldham from this point started to believe and the forwards started to perform with good carries from the veterans Alan Pierre and Matt burgess and once the team could sustain some pressure in the wythenshaws half it meant the penalties started to come. It was from one off these penalties the captain called a no 1 penalty which was not understood by any off the forwards as they thought he wanted the toilet! Up stepped Wystanowha to feed Webster as the pivot and loop around him to feed Blomfield on the burst to hit Jake Smith to go 2 meters short off the line. The next person at the ruck was Webster to pick and fall over the line to score a well worked try which will go a long way to celebrating his 68 birthdays in two weeks’ time.
The Wythenshaw team did respond to the Oldham attack by raising their game by speeding up the plays and having runners either side off the ruck which resulted in many penalties being taken quickly which put the Oldham forwards and backs on the back foot which resulted in the opponent’s center scoring again under the sticks which was converted. From the kick off form the restart resulted in the last try off the game as the backs and forwards combined to score out wide leading at half time 33- 12 to Wythenshaw.
First on the try sheet however in the second half was Oldham having decided that the team should play territory the forwards started to play with energy and direction and a new focus and some excellent carries by Dan Atkinson resulted in a scrum some 10 meters out. The result was another great charge from John Charlton at no 8 to go over for his second try and a possible chance off a third?
From this point onwards, the referee came up with various rules and decisions which meant the Oldham team seemed to be always on the wrong side and meant the Wythenshaw side produced three unanswered try’s which where questionable in terms of fair play and referee decisions as the rule is always say play to the whistle. The latter being a quick tap when all the Oldham and clear majority off the Wythenshaw team had stopped for a head injury for them to score under the posts and when the no 10 kicked the ball from the half way position and the players chasing being in front of the kicker to only go on and score.
At this point a normal Oldham team could have easily given up and buckle but it only angered the dragon within the team resulting in the best rugby off the game with both forwards and backs combining from the half way mark resulting in Charlton offloading to Pierre to feed Blomfield on the 22 to send McNally into the corner for his first try in the 3rd team and senior rugby. This gave Oldham the drive and character to step up the battle and finish the game on a high with another 10-meter scrum resulting the bulldozing John Charlton to score his third try and disserved Man off the match award!
The final score being 57- 27 which was a slightly overwhelming result in the end but everybody in the Oldham shirt can get up on the Sunday with a smile on their face and a broken body knowing that the return fixture in December in mud will be a different contest.