MATCH REPORT Oldham 18-20 London Broncos
Monday 20th February 2017 @ 13:29 by Mark Phillip


Kingstone Press Championship

Bower Fold is of course the home of Stalybridge Celtic, but is also currently hosting rugby league.  Featuring on last weeks Sporting Spotlight on Tameside Radio was an interview with Oldham Roughyeds Chairman, Chris Hamilton.  The picture Chris painted was sufficiently attractive for me to pay a visit last Sunday afternoon when London Broncos were the visitors.

I must start with an admission that I am somewhat of a lapsed league fan.  A regular visitor to Salford in the glory days of Keith Fielding; David Watkins; Colin Dixon et al, I also made more than the occasional trip to the wonderfully atmospheric Watersheddings, home of Oldham, which I suspect is more than sorely missed by the Roughyeds faithful.

But over the last decade or more I’ve been limited to watching the Super League on TV.  So Sunday was a step back in time, and one that was more than worthwhile.

Both Oldham and London have been in the Super League but in recent years have fallen from grace.  Both have been itinerant moving from ground to ground.  Indeed Oldham’s use of Bower Fold isn’t the first time they have been based on Tameside soil.  At the turn of the millenium they spent a year at Hurst Cross. But it was their promotion in time for the 2016 season which led to a temporary home at Stalybridge, with the ground at Whitebank Stadium deemed not fit to stage Championship rugby.

553 turned out to watch the encounter which got off to a sensational start.  With virtually the first play of the game an interception and 80 yard dash by Adam Clay led to a try from Joe Burke and an early Oldham lead.  The rest of the first half saw the two sides trade tries and conversions, with the home side edging it by 14-12 at the break, courtesy of a penalty from Scott Leatherbarrow.

The second half was more attritional.  Two penalties gave Oldham a 6 point cushion going into the latter stages.  Heartbreak was to follow.  Two unconverted London tries, the second coming from a breakaway on their own line, gave the visitors a 2 point lead with seconds to play.  Even then Oldham had the chance to share the points, but a Dave Hewitt penalty, with virtually the last action of the game struck the post and bounced to safety.

Definitely a good afternoon’s entertainment, and one that I will be repeating over the course of the spring and summer. Oldham are next at home on March 5th when Dewsbury Rams are the visitors.  Why not give it a try?