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Aldwinians edge victory over local rivals Oldham
Wednesday 31st October 2018 @ 14:09 by Mark Phillip

AMD Premier Division

Aldwinians 18-17 Oldham


Without captain Connor Prendergast in the front row and  key backs including the free scoring centre Jamie Henderson, it appeared a daunting prospect in taking on joint leaders in the league Oldham in this local derby.

It has not been a comfortable start to the league season for Aldwinians with only one victory so far from their six matches and often finding themselves with a mountain to climb in the second 40 minutes. 

The signs were ominous again as Oldham built a lead of  3-17 with two tries by half time. Aldwinians had kicked off and started well  earning the first penalty which back row James Summerscales took quickly and drove across the field. Territory was maintained for the opening 12 minutes and a drive by no 8 Harry Catlow put the Oldham defence under pressure in their 22 area. 

Possession was lost in the subsequent play enabling Oldham to kick deep for full back Tom Hughes to contend with. The follow up by the visiting three quarters prevented the clearance leading to a penalty to set up a lineout 15metres from the Aldwinians line. Perfect line out take and without any challenge on the drive Oldham had their first try from their first incursion into Aldwinians’ 22, on 16 minutes to go ahead 0 -7.

A sequence of exchanges in midfield followed but Oldham then capitalised on an arcing  break through midfield by their stand off. The play was held on Aldwinians’ left wing in the 22 area but at the next phase an offside gave Oldham an easy kick to go 0 -10 up on 25 minutes. 

There was some success for the home side when a drive by back row Lewis Quinn led to a penalty from which Tom Hughes earned three points on 37 minutes. This was quickly followed after the restart by the visitors’ second converted try just before half time down the right flank easily breaking through the porous defence to go ahead
3 -17.

This scenario at half time was déjà vu for the Aldwinians squad-Everest to climb with Oldham’s confidence growing that they could maintain their lofty league position. The way the team came out for the second half was a revelation; as though they had just had a motivational talk from the likes of mountaineer Edmund Hillary.

Aldwinians were on the attack from the start with prop Tyler Gibson setting the standard with a driving run. The introduction of  the experienced Andrew Ormrod and Mike Singleton to the pack during the half enhanced the improved profile as Aldwinians controlled the set pieces. 

Apart from one dangerous moment early in the half when Oldham broke free, only to waste a try scoring chance with a forward pass, the half belonged to the home side. The three-quarters started to get better ball and running beyond the gain line enabling forwards Andy Gidman, Catlow and  Ormrod to secure the breakdowns and drive on. 

Pressure was rewarded in the 57th minute with another Gibson drive picked up by scrum half Matty Ross to score near the posts to narrow the margin to 10 -17. A minute later centre James Nurney burst through over the Oldham line but was held up by the desperate defence from grounding the ball. 

Oldham cleared the ball from the ensuing scrum but that only served to allow the home side to mount another attack. With Ross and stand off Richard Mooney getting the three-quarter line moving forward the ball was fed out to James Burt on the left wing to dart over in the corner on 63 mins.

The conversion went wide to leave the score at a tantalising 15 -17. Could Oldham hold on or Aldwinians continue to  press forward to secure victory in the final stages? 

There was no let up in the pressure being applied by the Aldwinians side as they tried in every way to prise open the Oldham defence which held firm. As Oldham cleared their lines to try to gain territory the home side had to work their way back upfield through the pack with time running out. 

A key moment came from a lineout throw on 72 minutes by Oldham which was taken by Andrew Ormrod  and  play was taken deep into the visitors’ half. This led to a penalty offence in a kickable position  which Tom Hughes  stroked through the posts to  lead by a point. 

An exciting climax to the game which had a final twist as Oldham were awarded a 35 metre penalty wide out to recover the lead. The kick fell short and Aldwinians had the victory they deserved.

This week the squad travel to Widnes in the League. Kick-off now 2.15 pm.

By Trevor Hulmes

Picture: Aldwinians managed victory despite being without the influential Jamie Henderson (far left)