OLDHAM RUFC 15, ORMSKIRK 8
OLDHAM RUFC made it three home league wins out of three with victory against Ormskirk which lifted them to fifth place in the ADM Premiership.
It is an impressive start given the club was without a head coach on the eve of the new season and had lost many key players.
Callum Megram and former Exeter junior Rob Somerwill had left the area while Gaz Blomeley, Chas and Luke Roscoe and Gareth Barber, inspirational captain for the last decade, had all retired through long-term injuries.
And the lack of a colts’ team in the last couple of years meant there is not one player aged between 17 and 20 at the club.
Against this worrying backdrop, new head coach Jim Forster and his assistants Terry Megram and Bob Cullen took charge, but they deserve huge credit, along with captain Jack Taylor, for what they have achieved so far.
Ormskirk have had a difficult start to the season and for the first 10 minutes Oldham pounded their line and only a series of last-ditch tackles kept them at bay.
Then against the run of play, Ormskirk took the lead with following a sweeping move almost the length of the field from a five-metre defensive lineout. It was described as one of the best tries seen on the ground for several seasons.
Oldham were soon level as good yards by Dean McEwan, Paul Wardle, Tom Hannon and Rob Froggatt set up Ryan Pickles who touched down as his rich vein of form continued.
The weather didn’t help flowing rugby and there were plenty of errors and a succession of scrums.
The next score did not arrive until the hour when Tom Davies, whose excellent kicking and running had helped Oldham have a big territorial advantage, made a half break, continued by Pickles and Lewis Townsend, who neatly sidestepped the last defenders to score by the post. Jordan McEwan added the extras to open a 12-5 advantage.
A disconsolate Davies left the field with a broken collarbone to become the seventh first-team squad member to suffer serious injury in training or a game since the season started.
The other most recent casualty was young prop Billy Buckley who snapped his Achilles tendon in training last week and is likely to miss the whole season.
Shortly afterwards McEwan kicked an excellent 40-yard penalty to give Oldham some breathing space at 15-5, but the last 15 minutes saw Ormskirk on top as they looked for a way back into the game.
Oldham were grateful for a huge defensive effort with Louis Fitton and the second row paring of Nick Hackman and Nick Wright all stopping what seemed to be certain tries.
Ormskirk were rewarded with a well-deserved bonus point when a finely struck penalty brought them back in contention but, fortunately, for a relieved Oldham, there was not enough time left for them to mount another attack.