And so it begins again. Oldham went to North Manchester in high hopes of pulling off a win on the opening day of the brand new season. With a squad of 19 players and a lot of experience ( plus some red raw recruits who had never played before! ) they had the wherewithal to do the job. Early penalties pegged the away side in their own half for quite a period in the opening quarter and North Manchester opened the scoring after seven minutes via a try to the left of the posts and converted by former Oldham favourite Scot Danby.
On the quarter hour Oldham lost Zack Thackwell with a knee injury but started to find some positives, particularly in the scrum where they were dominant and the line out. Finally a bit of Oldham pressure paid off as Rhys Jones took a quick tap penalty about thirty metres out, caught the home side napping, brushed off three would be tacklers to score wide out on the left. On thirty minutes Danby increased the North Manchester score when he landed a penalty from thirty five metres out. A couple of minutes later great work by Mark Worthington winning a ruck ball he had no right to win put Mike Green into space who in turn sent Nick Wright racing up the right wing to score in the corner. Just before half time it was Oldham’s turn to be caught out when the home sides winger raced half the length of the pitch to score. Danby goaled again to leave a half time score of North Manchester 17 - 10 Oldham.
North Manchester kicked off the second half and Oldham immediately started to concede penalties and four minutes into the new half the home side scored again but even at 22 - 10 Oldham weren’t out of the game. Good defensive work was needed as the home side began to camp out in the Oldham half and the away side just couldn’t get any forward momentum. Then the inevitable happened on fifty five minutes when North Manchester scored another converted try which put the game beyond Oldham and another ungoaled try five minutes later stretched the score to 34- 10. However Oldham hadn’t finished and for the final quarter of the game they threw everything at the home side with Mat Jakeman, Mike Green and Alan Piere all going close and just before the end Luke Ferrier took yet another quick tap penalty and then side stepped his way to the line to score. Rhys Jones added the two extra points to leave a final score of North Manchester 23 - 17 Oldham.
There were some great performances from Alan Piere, Mike Green, Barry Wardle, Ainsley Brookes and Nick Wright and especially Oldham's man of the match Lewis Bullen.
Oldham showed up well against (lets be fair here) a fair sprinkling of the North Manchester clubs first team who didn’t have a game on the first day of the season, so overall the rest of Oldham 3s season looks like it could be promising. And so it begins again.
Report by Stephen Ingham.