MATCH REPORT – Oldham RLFC 28 – 20 Newcastle Thunder

Newcastle Thunder’s seven match winning streak was brought to an end by a dogged Oldham RLFC side on Sunday afternoon, following a disappointing second half which saw a 16 point swing in favour of the hosts.

It was the proverbial game of two halves for Simon Finnigan’s side and an almost carbon copy of the game at Kingston Park earlier in the season as the hosts fought back to take the spoils following an impressive opening half by the visitors.

Following a steady start to the match Thunder were the first off the mark as they were rewarded for some ambitious play close to their own goal line.

Breaking through the midfield winger Alex Clegg surged his way upfield and though the Oldham fullback stopped his progress, Quentin Laulu Togaga’e was on hand in support to finish the move.     

The scorer turned to architect five mins later with a clever windmill dummy opening the space from which Conor Fitzsimmons was fed to score, but it was a short-lived extension as the Roughyeds opened their account as Kyran Johnson won the footrace to a well placed grubber.

Bouyed by that score, Oldham opted to run a last tackle close to the Thunder line but by trying to force the pass out to the wing, the ball was instead snatched out of the air by Thunder’s Kieran Gill for length of the field interception score.

With half an hour gone, Thunder were seemingly in full control and when they opted to keep the ball in hand on a fifth and last, after Aussie half-back Nick Newman’s sleight of hand and fleet-footedness put them onto the front foot it yielded their fourth try of the day.

Whipping the ball out wide, Gill fixed his man superbly before offloading to Clegg who strolled in for a well taken try.

Conceding on the cusp of half time made it just an eight-point deficit, but one on the face of the first half, one that Thunder should have been able to hold on to.

But at a ground where results have been difficult to come by for the North Easterners, the determination to get themselves back into the best of positions ahead of the end of season play-offs saw the Roughyeds make the most of their opportunities and frustrate Newcastle’s efforts to regain the initiative in the game.

A measure of how equal the teams were can be gleaned by the fact that despite enjoying much of the best of the half, Oldham’s lead only extended beyond a score with nine minutes to play and in the closing stages, it was Newcastle who were looking most likely to score.

They went close twice in the final throes, with Misi Taulapapa making a great break down the wing looking to score on the fifth in last before being scragged into touch and Joel Edwards barging his way over the line, only to have the score chalked off for obstruction in the build-up.

The two efforts summed up the afternoon perfectly as a case of so near yet so far and places additional focus on this coming Sunday’s home clash with Coventry Bears as Thunder look to get back to winning ways

Newcastle Thunder

Lewis Young, Alex Clegg, Kieran Gill, Joe Brown, Misi Taulapapa, QLT, Nick Newman, Liam McAvoy, Aaron Ollett, Joel Edwards, Conor Fitzsimmons, Rhys Clarke, Harry Aldous, Evan Simons, Jared Blanke, Sam Luckley, Muizz Mustapha

Tries: Laulu-Togaga’e (6) Fitzsimmons (12) Gill (20) Clegg (31)

Goals: Clarke 2/4

Oldham RLFC

Hawkyard, Aaronson, McComb, Leeming, Johnson, Crook, Hewitt, Joy, Owen, Law, Bridge, Langtree, Bent, Whittle, Smith, Beckett, Wilkinson

Tries: Johnson (16) Bridge (36, 54) Leeming (46) Owen (71)

Goals: Crook 4/5