This was a team that had played some excellent rugby 2 weeks previously when at Manor Park, they beat us 0 – 29, and if we are honest they did it with a bit of style.
On the Rochdale web page they were singing the praises of a new centre pairing, as well as a strong experienced front row. Reading between the lines they expected a Saturday stroll, and a similar result to the previous one.
But Oldham 3s are made of sterner stuff. A mixture of experienced heads, young legs and a determination to stand up and show what we were capable of, was soon apparent.
The Oldham team approached the game with an attitude to back each other up, not criticise mistakes, and get into the Rochdale faces, and boy did it work!!!
Rochdale spurned the chance to kick for points and elected to run the ball when awarded a penalty 10 minutes into the game. The Oldham response was like an attack of the killer bees, swarming all over each Rochdale attack, and not allowing them to settle into a comfort zone.
Rochdale did however manage to score the first try, but failed to convert it. Heads did not drop, the Oldham players looked at each other and got stuck in even harder which led to Oldham powering back and driving over for Jack Taylor to score a try of their own in return. This was converted by Jordan McEwan returning for his first game after injury, to give Oldham 3s a narrow lead.
The score stayed at 5 – 7 to Oldham for much of the rest of the game, with the Rochdale team getting more jittery by the minute, dropping good ball, taking the wrong option, poor kicking into space – they played right into Oldham`s hands. In the last 10 minutes Rochdale kicked 2 penalties to make the score 11 – 7, and did they know they were in a game. Their forwards were puffing and blowing at the end.
Two things that stood out for Oldham was the positive support and praise given to the different players who knocked on, one with a run to the line in front of him and the second just outside the Oldham 22. Brilliant team play and attitude, well done to the lads.
In a game of committed rugby played with enthusiasm, desire, and a will to win made for an outstanding team that did not drop its focus over the 80 minutes.
In all it was the best game that I have seen all year, and both teams deserve praise for the standard the game was played at. Oldham showed that they are a team who will worry a few more teams this year.