Roughyeds run riot in season opener
Monday 19th February 2018 @ 11:58 by Mark Phillip

Betfred League One
Whitehaven 0-14 Oldham Roughyeds

Oldham’s first win at Whitehaven in 17 years, 14-0, was a triumph for hard graft, ball retention, discipline and good, old-fashioned forward play.

Their props, or ‘middle unit’ as they are known today, were magnificent. So hats off to Phil Joy, Adam Neal, Luke Nelmes, Jack Spencer and Adam Jones.

They all put in a tough shift on the sloppy Recreation Ground pitch. Throw wind, rain and cold into the mix and you have day one of Betfred League 1’s summer season!

As you might have guessed, it was no game for the purist. It was a slog on a sloppy surface, but coach Scott Naylor knew what it would be like in advance and he prepared accordingly.

‘Haven player-coach Carl Forster said: “In conditions like those and with a pack like theirs, Oldham are probably the best-equipped team in the competition.”

The only try of the game went to Roughyeds hooker Matty Wilkinson after Danny Langtree, Paul Crook and Neal broke up the middle and Wilkinson added the finishing touches.

Crook, captaining the side in the absence of injured skipper Gareth Owen, added the goal and went on to land four penalty goals as the frustrated home side lost their composure in the second half.

They gave away nine penalties in a row in a one-sided second stanza and captain Crook made them pay for their lack of discipline, which culminated in a team warning by the referee and then a yellow card for Dion Aiye.

Many fans thought Haven’s young French prop Levy Nzoungou would pose a threat, but Joy, Neal and Co made sure he was given a rough ride and tackled him out of the game.

Reflecting on the game, coach Scott Naylor said: “We couldn’t ask for much more than to start with a win at one of the toughest places we’ll visit all season. We’ve got it out of the way early, the others have still to go.

“It was bound to be a slow game in those conditions, but we applied ourselves well and our defence looked good and solid.

“We’ve also ticked the box which asked if we had the grit and the attitude to go to a place like that and win.”

Whitehaven: Burns; Thompson, Holliday, Taylor, Mossop; Billsborough, Phillips; Shackley, Abram, Coward, Gillam, Reece, Forster. Subs: Tilley, Aiye, Nzoungou.

Oldham: Nield; Eccleston, Holmes, Reid, Johnson; Crook, Hewitt; Joy, Wilkinson, Neal, Bridge, Langtree, Lannon. Subs: Nelmes, Hughes, Spencer, Jones.

Ref: Brandon Robinson; Att: 785.

By Roger Halstead