ORMSKIRK 15, OLDHAM RUFC 12
OLDHAM RUFC suffered further agony as they slipped to a seventh straight defeat in the ADM Premier Division.
After losing controversially by one point the previous week at Liverpool Collegiate, this time they went down by the slender margin of three at Ormskirk.
There have been a series of near misses in the losing run, but the Manor Park side keeps ending up on the wrong side of the line as they currently lie in eighth place.
It is a marked contrast to the promising start to the season in which Oldham recorded four wins in their first seven matches.
The usual round of unavailability and late withdrawals left this once again a much-changed team and able to name only one replacement.
They arrived late and with new combinations all over the field, they looked out of sorts. That proved to be the case as Ormskirk were clearly much better prepared and rugby ready and took an early 3-0 lead through a penalty.
And the penalties continued which gave lots of possession to the home side which they thrived on.
Oldham struggled to get even a toehold in the game, and it was only a scrambling defence and a couple of mistakes by Ormskirk which kept the scoreboard down. However, they extended their lead to 8-0 when a pacy winger won the chase to a well-judged grubber kick to touch down.
And the game continued in a similar vein with Oldham easily conceding what little possession they had and Ormskirk making ground all over the pitch. They might have scored on a couple of occasions, and it was no surprise when they extended the lead to 15-0 when they scored a converted try in the right-hand corner.
The half time whistle couldn’t come soon enough for the out of sorts and beleaguered Oldham side as this had been a difficult 40 minutes.
The second half started in the familiar miserable pattern. It looked for all the world that Ormskirk would extend their lead, but Oldham won a critical turnover almost on their own line. And that single event seemed to change the mind-set of the Manor Park outfit and they started to get on the front foot and play with more composure and control.
Passes started going to hand, bodies were getting to the breakdown to secure the ball, kicks to touch started going to touch and they started to play in better parts of the pitch.
But while the game was more balanced, the scoreboard had not changed by the 70th minute. But Oldham’s endeavours were finally rewarded when they moved the ball out wide and Josh Watson scored an unconverted try to make the score 15-5.
With the match entering the final few minutes Oldham were again camped on their opponent’s try-line, but the referee saw a knock on and awarded a five-metre scrum to Ormskirk. The Oldham scrum that had been under a bit of pressure all day put in a valiant effort to take one against the head and after a couple of drives Nick Wright dived over and Jordan McEwan’s conversion made the score 15-12.
There was still time to restart. Oldham tails were up, and they recovered the ball following a lineout. The ball retention was now so much better, and they were spreading the ball left and right to stretch the home team defence.
They created a three against one on the left but two of the three were exhausted props who had had to play the full 80 minutes and so that particular avenue did not bear fruit. But the attack continued and Oldham were still confident of completing a great comeback until eventually they ran out of time.
Ormskirk were worthy winners as they dominated the majority of the game apart from that last 20 minutes when Oldham’s spirit was exemplary.
Man of the match was 18-year-old prop Marshall Yates on his first start for the senior side.
Oldham are at home to fourth-placed St Helens side West Park on Saturday.