Date published: 18 March 2013
OLDHAM 34, THUNDER 16
TAKE a bow, second-row rookies Josh Crowley and Danny Langtree.
In this, their first season of senior rugby, Oldham’s 11 and 12 have done enough in two friendlies and three Northern Rail Cup outings to show they can play lead roles in the club’s attempt to get out of Championship One this season.
Crowley, a 21 year old shown the door by Widnes Vikings, and Langtree, just 22 and once a young hopeful at St Helens, are products of the sweeping changes Naylor has introduced at Whitebank since he was brought it to reinvent the squad’s culture.
The team has been consistently good since day one — but in this hard-fought 34-16 win against a gutsy Gateshead Thunder they were better than ever.
One of six Roughyeds players aged 21 or under, Crowley’s job was to punch holes in Thunder’s stubborn rearguard down the left hand side of the field and he responded with a man-of-the-match performance which yielded his first hat-trick outside age-related rugby.
Langtree was to fill a similar role on the right, and he chipped in with a brace of tries in running his second-row partner close for the club’s official best-player award.
Roughyeds led 22-0 at the break after enjoying first use of the slope. They carried on where they left off against Rochdale last time out, totally dominating the opening half and, for the first half hour, producing a near-perfect performance.
It was 31 minutes before a pass went to ground and in that time the controlled kicking of half-backs Neil Roden and Lewis Palfrey earned the home side three lots of back-to-back sets which inevitably kept Thunder pinned in at their end of the ground.
Oldham might have been expected to pile on a few points in the second half, but in the event Thunder came into the game.
The home forwards found it tough going up the slope and against a very big and physical Thunder pack.
Oldham were to finish the stronger, however, by coming up with the best try of the game when Crowley completed his well-deserved hat-trick in the corner after some good, old fashioned back play that clearly impressive an appreciative home crowd.
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