AFTER the excitement of getting their Championship campaign off to a winning start against Swinton Lions, Roughyeds were brought back down to earth with a jolt when hammered in every department 48-10 at Batley.

Before and then during this nine-try mauling, Matt Diskin’s men suffered a pile of injuries that disrupted plans and forced him to return to his former club for the first time with a team that was well below strength.

Four front-line forwards were missing, Phil Joy, Shaun Pick, Martyn Reilly and Liam Kirk and to make matters a great deal worse, three more senior members of the squad picked up first-half knocks that caused them to miss large periods of the game.

It was only a few minutes old when second-row forward Danny Bridge damaged a knee, played on for a few minutes after treatment and then left the field to take no further part.

Hooker and club captain Gareth Owen also took a knock, struggled on to half-time, but was then forced to call it a day.

When senior centre Ben Heaton went down with an ankle injury midway through the first half and was then led away with the joint in an ice-pack, Diskin must have felt he had run-over a black cat.

These are not excuses for another wishy-washy away performance...remember Swinton in the Cup at Heywood Road?

But very good reasons for conceding so many points and being out-classed in so many different positions.

The engine room of any rugby team, league or union, is its forward pack.

It was felt pre-match that if Oldham’s forwards could at least match those facing them, Diskin’s back-division troops might have enough support to hold the home side’s classier half-backs and threequarters.

Parity in the engine-shed was never going to happen, though once it was known that so many of Oldham’s experienced forwards were unavailable.

Jack Spencer and Luke Nelmes, especially Spencer, tried desperately hard to make up for the shortage of senior bodies in the front-row. while Liam Bent tackled everything that moved, as he usually does, and Dec Gregory came on for Owen in the second half to play with his usual verve and energy.

Overall, though, and even accounting for the absentees, Oldham were not good enough.

They made too many mistakes with ball in hand; fell off too many tackles; gave away too many penalties; and once again lacked the cutting edge to break open a defence that was much stronger and more structured than theirs.

It was Swinton away all over again and two of the match stats tell the story - penalties (8-4 to the Bulldogs) and set restarts (6-2 to the Bulldogs).

The home forwards won the battle up front and their backs capitalised with, interestingly, eight of their nine tries being scored by the backs.

A principal feature of Batley’s performance was the link-up of full-back Luke Hooley with his half-backs, Tom Gilmore and Ben White. They formed a classy triumvirate which Oldham couldn’t match but, there again, they were playing behind a dominant set of forwards which gave them a massive advantage.

Everything comes back to those big guys in the middle . . . and the sooner Oldham get Joy, Kirk, Reilly, Pick and Bridge back in harness, the sooner will they have the chance of holding their own and picking up some wins.


Batley - goals: Gilmore (3), Hooley (3); tries: Tonks, Hooley, Broughton, Logan, White (2), Campbell (2), Hall.

Oldham - goal: Abram; tries: Charnock, Brierley.


BATLEY: Hooley; Campbell, Morton, Logan, Broughton; White, Gilmore; Gledhill, Leak, Everett, Buchanan, Manning, Tonks. Subs: Hall. Brown, Blagbrough, Flynn.

OLDHAM: Abram; Brierley, Heaton, Roberts, Ince; Charnock, Hewitt; Nelmes, Owen, Spencer, Langtree, Bridge, Bent; Subs: Dupree. Fletcher, Green, Gregory.

Referee: James Vella.

HT: 28-6