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Oldham edge to victory at Trafford
Tuesday 29th January 2019 @ 11:06 by Mark Phillip

ADM Premier Division

Trafford MV 10-15 Oldham

Oldham won the toss and chose to play up a slight hill with a fairly strong wind behind them. The pitch was in good condition and firm underfoot but the grass was a little long. The first 10 minutes was a real ordeal for Oldham as every 50/50 decision went against them and Tom Hannon got 10 minutes in the bin for foul play. Oldham’s difficulties with the referees were matched only by their difficulties with the weather conditions as they struggled to put together a passing game in the difficult conditions. 

The visitors had almost seen the sin bin out when MV built some irresistible pressure in Oldham’s 22. They defended their line with real commitment but the extra man eventually told when a forward dived over the top to touch down and open the scoring. A difficult conversion from out wide looked perfect but struck the upright so Trafford led 5-0. 

Oldham recognised that something had to change and adopted a much tighter strategy, keeping the ball in amongst the forwards. This provided some stability, some possession and some field position. But just when they thought they were getting on top, a knock on, a poor lineout, a silly penalty or a poor decision allowed MV to relieve the pressure. Oldham’s carelessness along with their defence meant the score didn’t change for a long period. Oldham introduced Mellor on at scrum half with Barber moving to 10, Megram to inside centre and Watson to number 8. This provided a bit more energy around the breakdown and powerful surges from Hackman, Hannon, Blomeley, Wood and Souter started to pay dividends. Taylor and Taquila started to harass MV around the breakdown. The different running angles of Watson around the breakdown provided a different problem to the home defence. As the pressure built, MV were reduced to 10 men when a player threw the ball away following the award of a penalty. Oldham took full advantage of the extra man and a series of carries managed to suck in the MV pack and midfield defence. This created some space out wide and a lost pass gave Arundale a free run to the line near the corner to level the scores. McEwan’s excellent conversion from the touchline gave Oldham a 5-7 lead and the score didn’t change before the half time whistle.

Oldham expected MV to adopt a kicking game, so they had their first tactical success of the day when they sat their back three of Roscoe, Arundale and Townsend deep to ensure that they couldn’t be turned around. This nullified a potent kicking game but also offered them the opportunity to try to get round Oldham which they immediately spotted and looked to run from deep. However, Barber, Megram and Davies managed to stifle their attacking options for the first 20 minutes and they never managed to get outside Oldham which took real discipline and organisation.  The visitors knew that they were a fit side and would go for 80 minutes but the forwards started to break the line and sniping runs from Mellor and powerful bursts from Roscoe coming into the line regularly caused MV problems. An attack in the left hand corner created space on the right and McEwan, at second receiver, put a delightful little chip into the in goal area and Arundale just won the race to touch down. Another excellent kick drifted just wide from McEwan gave Oldham a 5-12 lead. 

As the game entered the final quarter, a kick was charged down and Barber was sin binned for playing the ball on the ground. MV had a dominant spell and made the man advantage pay when they went over in the corner to reduce the arrears to 10-12. Unbelievably the difficult conversion struck the upright again. Oldham’s kick-off didn’t go 10m and they were soon back in their 22 but defended well. And as Barber returned they were still ahead. Mellor made a break and chipped ahead and then hoofed it towards the line. Oldham recovered the ball and a quick ruck saw a gaping line. But Mellor was tackled by a lazy runner who had never been on side and a penalty try seemed inevitable. But the referee saw no offence and the game continued. The pressure eventually told when Oldham were awarded a penalty for another offence. It was a difficult choice with the clock running down. Take a certain three points or scrum and hope for a defining score or at least run down the clock and pin them close to their line. Oldham choose the points and McEwan made the score 10-15.

Report by Dave Roscoe

Picture by Tim Abram