A LAST-gasp Danny Craven drop-goal meant Roughyeds snatched a 25-24 win over an exasperated North Wales who had been the better side for most of the game, writes Kasey Smith.

With a 16-point lead going into the final 20 minutes, Crusaders seemed poised to secure their first victory after five consecutive defeats – but Oldham had other ideas.

Faced with the prospect of back-to-back defeats, and a season potentially derailed, Roughyeds sparked into life after the hour-mark, scoring three tries and a drop-goal to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Oldham did not get the fast start they had been hoping for when Ben Evans, on the back of a Dan Coates 40/20, scored a try which Ben Lane converted – as he did for all four Crusaders tries.

Their lead was doubled with just a quarter of the game gone when former Roughyed Pat Ah Van scored in the corner, after being played in direct from a scrum.

And Carl Forster’s men could have had more, but for some resolute Roughyeds goal-line defending.

Oldham’s response came when a quick shift out wide – as well as some good play by Ben O’Keefe in delaying a pass – allowed Jack Johnson to force his way over in the corner, but Craven could not add the extras. Just before half-time, full-back Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e managed to evade several North Wales tacklers to score, but Craven’s missed conversion meant Crusaders still had a four point cushion.

And that soon became ten points when, in North Wales’ first set of six of the second half, Kieran Taylor leaped high to catch and ground Toby Hughes’ high-hanging kick.

After Craig Kopczak was sinbinned, another Crusaders try followed when Oliver Davies strolled through a big gap to ground Hughes’ low-driven kick, while Oldham imploded.

But Oldham were handed a lifeline when Logan Astley danced past several tired Crusaders tacklers to score a try which Craven swiftly converted.

Roughyeds took full advantage of that fatigue when replacement hooker Bailey Aldridge sneaked in with a barge over from dummy-half for another try which Craven wasted no time in converting.

Three minutes from time, Craven produced some individual brilliance when he feigned a pass to open up a gap from 15 metres out which he hurtled through to level the scores.

This time the stand-off was in no hurry to take the conversion but, with the angle tighter than the other two, it sailed agonisingly wide.

There were two big carries from Farnworth in Oldham’s final throw of the dice, as they got to within 20 metres on the last tackle with just seconds remaining.

Jake Burns did his best to repel the inevitable forthcoming Craven drop-goal, but his efforts proved fruitless as the ball sailed through the posts, sending one side of the stadium into delirium and the other into despair.

North Wales: goals, Lane 2/2; tries, Evans, Ah Van, Taylor, Davies

Oldham: goals, Craven 3/5; tries, Johnson, Laulu-Togaga’e, Astley, Aldridge, Craven


NORTH WALES: Lane; Holmes, Taylor, Oakley, Ah Van; Coates, Hughes; Evans, Burns, Barratt, Unsworth, Davies, Roberts-Else. Subs: Costello, Carr, Rainford, Ellis (all used). 18th Man: Bushell

OLDHAM: Laulu-Togaga’e; Jack Johnson, Morgan, O’Keefe, Tyrer; Craven, Astley; Farnworth, Wildie, J.Chapelhow, Gallagher, Taylor, Hirst. Subs: Aldridge, Josh Johnson, Kopczak, Paga (all used). 18th Man: T.Chapelhow

Referee: Andy Sweet; HT: 18-0; Pens: 5-10; Att: 756