IT IS not over yet, but Oldham’s hopes of going up automatically as Betfred League 1 champions look decidedly dodgy after their hard-fought top-two clash at the Recreation Ground.

Oldham led Whitehaven 10-8 with nine minutes left, but their hopes of leap-frogging the Cumbrians into top spot were dashed when home full-back Jordan Burns scored a late try, added the goal and then kicked a penalty to see them home.

Scott Naylor’s men are now in third place, three points behind Whitehaven and one behind Newcastle Thunder, who have still to come to the Vestacare Stadium.

The champions go up automatically and the next five are in a play-off for a second promotion spot so there is going to be a mad scramble to finish first or second, a runners-up spot that provides massive play-off advantages.

Each of Oldham’s remaining six games is now absolutely vital, starting with this Sunday’s clash against in-form North Wales Crusaders at the Vestacare Stadium (3pm kick-off).

Victory in Sunday’s match would have seen Roughyeds take over at the top of the table and, with a 6-0 lead at half-time, things were looking good.

A try by prop Scott Law, goaled by Dave Hewitt, gave them their advantage at the interval, but they badly needed to consolidate in the second half and the worst happened when the home side drew level in their first attack.

Roughyeds failed to defuse a bomb and Dave Thompson scored a try which Connor Holliday improved before adding a penalty goal for an 8-6 lead.

Soon afterwards he was taken off with suspected heat stroke and Burns took over as marksman, a forced change which was ultimately to prove decisive.

Oldham struck back on the hour when a try by Zack McComb, the result of three back-to-back sets, restored the visitors’ lead at 10-8.

With nine minutes remaining Oldham were still in front, but it was Burns who was to emerge a Cumbrian hero with the match-winning try that broke Oldham hearts and severely dented their top-prize ambitions.

His try, conversion and late penalty goal put a hard-fought game to bed and pushed Roughyeds down to third place with six games to play.

Team: Hawkyard; Aaronson, McComb, Leeming, Holmes; Brook, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Law, Bridge, Langtree, Bent. Subs: Spencer, Whittel, Wilkinson, Greenwood.

Tries: Law, McComb, Law. Goal: Hewitt.

Referee: Tom Crashley.