RANGERS COACH Paul Geener hailed Saddleworth spirit as his side clinched the Oldham Standard Cup with a last-gasp 20-18 victory against Rochdale Mayfield.
There was a dramatic opening to the Good Friday clash at Oldham RUFC as Premiership side Rochdale scored within two minutes to take the lead.
But two minutes later, their player/coach Matt Calland saw red for punching to the head, off the ball.
Rangers, who play two divisions lower in the National Conference League, keep pegging back their opponents to keep the score close, but Aidy Gleeson’s converted try after 75 minutes looked to have sealed the win for Mayfield.
But with 90 seconds left, Rangers full-back Ben Whitehead gathered the ball, rounded three opponents and, taking two more with him, crashed over the whitewash.
Celebrations followed as Rangers lifted the cup for the first time since 2011 – a victory Geener, joint-coach with Craig Farrimond, credited entirely to the players.
“We were massive underdogs going into the game as they are a Premiership team and we are division two, with a new team,” he admitted.
“Just a few minutes in they scored and my first reaction was we could be in for a long day. But then they got one player sent off and from then on it was fairly balanced.
“With five minutes to go they scored to go two points ahead and a lot of people would have thought that was it, but not the Saddleworth players.
“They never gave in and got what they deserved. It was a massive effort from everybody. No amount of coaching could have won that game and I am taking no credit for it!
“We scored with one minute and 30 seconds to go – that was the longest one minute and 30 seconds of my rugby career! It was a brilliant feeling.”
He added: “We didn’t even play that well. So if we can play like that and still beat a Premiership side it says a lot for what the team can do.
‘We have played six games this season and not lost yet so that is a great platform to build on and we have got to keep it going for the rest of the season.
“We’ve got a young side but they are doing great. One of the youngest, Harry Godfrey, was probably one of the best in the game and he’s only just come up from the U18s.”
Josh Brown received the Ben Powell Trophy for being named player of the match.