Oldham 3rds were back at home for the first time in a number of weeks, having missed the last home game and played two consecutive away games. Oldham were looking like they had a good strength side, although until the last minute were short of a prop. As the team were getting changed, the Captain managed to persuade Steve Barlow to borrow some kit and complete the front row - many thanks to “Sally” for that. Conditions were excellent and the pitch in very good shape, and Oldham were looking forward to the game. Tarleton turned up with thirteen players, so under the fair play rules Oldham started with fourteen plus replacements.
From the first whistle, Oldham were looking strong all over the field with the pack competing hard and the backs running well and making ground. About twenty minutes in, Oldham forwards gained good position with possession around the Tarleton ten metre line, and the backs found a turn of speed through Nick McDowell and Pete Hilton, and then Captain Kevin Golland beat two defenders and was stopped around the five metre line. However he stayed on his feet and managed to offload to Luke Roscoe, who finished off the move with Oldham's opening try. This was converted by Chris Brown.
Oldham continued to play well and make the most of their possession, and before long they had a penalty which was kicked by Brown to make the score 10-0. Oldham were looking strong, but Tarleton soon came back and scored a try at the other end which they converted, and before half time they too kicked a penalty bringing the scores level.
Half time Score: Oldham 10 v Tarleton 10
In the second half the game was close from the outset. The first strike went to Tarleton after a period of sustained pressure, and this was converted. Tarleton had a new confidence in their pack and put Oldham's scrum under pressure within Oldham's twenty two, and a number of repeated scrums ensued. Oldham's pack were frustrated by the inconsistent requirements of front row distance at the crouch and the varying timing of the bind and set calls. In addition the Referee penalised Kevin Byrom for sticking his leg out on the flank, a ruling the pack were unhappy with. Eventually the Referee gave a penalty against Anthony Beswick at scrum-half going round to the other side of the scrum which Tarleton kicked for goal. Fortuneately for Oldham the kick was just wide. Shortly after this Tarleton were then awarded a Penalty Try after a scrum wheeled and broke up close to the Oldham Line. A decision that again puzzled the Oldham team and also left them with a lot of work still to do if they wanted to get something from the game.
Time was ticking away for Oldham who thought they had played well enough to come away with a better result than a loss. With renewed determination, they began to go forward again. After a scrum on the right side of Tarleton's half, Beswick ran forward with the ball off the back of the scrum, followed up by Kev Golland (now blindside flanker), who received the pass and ran over the line and close to the posts to score a try. This was converted by Brown.
With only a few minutes to go, Oldham had another move off a scrum down the right had side, and this time it was Paul Blomfield who showed a great turn of speed to break the Tarlton defence and score Oldham's final try, which was again converted by Brown.
Final Score: Oldham 3rds 24 – 24 Tarleton 2nds
The final result of a 24-24 draw was a fair one, and Oldham will now be looking to capitalise on this great performance with their first win. Man of the Match went to Kevin Golland for great work both on the wing and on the flank.