Match Report: OLDHAM RUFC 22, FLEETWOOD 16

OLDHAM RUFC opened their home programme in ADM Lancashire and Cheshire 2 with a hard-earned win against Fleetwood which was likened to an arm wrestle.

After losing narrowly by eight points at Ormskirk in their first league match, head coach Jimmy Forster’s side bounced back with a narrow victory against opponents who scored 57 points the previous week against Liverpool Collegiate.

It was especially pleasing as injuries, holidays and work commitments had left Oldham with a threadbare squad, but they still have a formidable pack which muscled its way to the points.

But Oldham made a bright start and took an early lead when they disrupted a Fleetwood lineout and ever alert scrum half Alex Jobson gathered the bouncing ball and showed a decent turn of pace to touchdown in the corner for a deserved 5-0 lead.

Alex Jobson

Fleetwood hit back with two tries and a penalty to overturn the deficit which became a 13-5 lead for the visitors as Oldham let themselves down with ill-discipline and a lack of composure at key moments.

But they remained threatening and were rewarded when they secured a penalty 10 metres out. A strong maul was formed and from the drive Rhys Jones touched down. A difficult conversation from close to the touchline was nailed by Jobson to reduce the deficit to 13-12.

Fleetwood extended their lead to 16-12 through a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

On balance, Fleetwood probably just about deserved a half-time lead, but Oldham were still well and truly in the game.

Oldham, assisted by a series of penalties, regained the lead with Louis Fitton dotting down near the corner flag. Another superb conversion from Jobson gave them a 19-16 lead.

Things took a turn for the worse for Oldham when the referee deemed influential loose head prop Tom Hannon, who was having a barnstorming game, guilty of cynical play at the breakdown on halfway and gave him a yellow card.

But the Oldham 14 stepped up big time and the 10 minutes came and went without either side adding to the scoreboard.

Oldham had a lengthy spell defending their own line and you could see where the benefits of training kicked in as their organised defence proved to be impenetrable during a troubling time.

Hannon looked to have sealed the game for Oldham when he touched down after a powerful series of pick and drives close to the line.

This would have given Oldham a two-score lead with about 10 minutes to play. However, he was adjudged to have knocked on.

Oldham were given another penalty and Jobson once again delivered the goods and the hosts led 22-16.

But Oldham faced playing the last 10 minutes with 14 players when Davies was given a yellow card for dissent.

Once again, they performed superbly and defended their line with a level of commitment that was impressive to watch. Time after time, Fleetwood were knocked back and as the minutes went by, they dared to believe that the 14 could see this one out.

As Fleetwood were repelled for the umpteenth time, the referee announced that one minute remained as he awarded them a scrum five metres from the Oldham line directly in front of the posts.

With Oldham down to 14, it seemed inevitable that Fleetwood would exploit the space available, as there was a huge amount of it for a short-handed Oldham to defend.

This appeared to be the defining play and the Oldham eight somehow summoned up a mighty effort to drive a good Fleetwood pack off their own ball.

Oldham won a penalty and Jobson was able to kick to touch for the victory, or so he thought.  But no, somehow time remained time for a lineout.

Fleetwood won it and attacked down the short side, Oldham thought they had bundled the ball and player into touch, but apparently not and Fleetwood were awarded a penalty and the drama, and the minute continued.

Fleetwood took a tap and go but two plays later they knocked on. Surely full time. But no, in this never-ending minute there was still time for a scrum. One last effort was needed and delivered by the pack before Fitton kicked the ball out and the game was eventually won.

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