HIGH-PROFILE Brian McDermott, enlisted as coaching consultant in a bid to keep struggling Oldham in the Betfred Championship, wasn’t at all fazed by a heavy 54-22 home defeat against Bradford.

The Bulls are not third in the table by accident and although McDermott saw Roughyeds concede no fewer than nine tries at Bower Fold in his first game at the club, he also spotted a lot of positives.

“It was clearly a tough day for Oldham supporters,” said the former Harlequins RL, Leeds Rhinos and Toronto Wolfpack boss,”but it was an interesting day for me from the coaching point of view.

“I saw a lot of commitment and unity which is a great place to start.

“Their halves exposed some of the things we’ve been working on but, having said that, there were a few things on which we can build.”

One of those positives must have been Oldham’s determination not to let superior opponents have things all their own way.

The longer the game went on, the more likely Oldham looked to put some points on the board.

Trailing 36-0 after 55 minutes, they might easily have capitulated completely, but with Tyler Dupree leading the charge off the bench, they rattled up 22 points in the last 25 minutes to make the result look a lot more acceptable.

Danny Langtree on the charge against Bradford Bulls

Danny Langtree on the charge against Bradford Bulls

They were never going to win, but they grew into the game after a poor start in which they again struggled to respect possession and also lost captain and hooker Gareth Owen with a back injury midway through the first half.

He went off, never to return, and with Declan Gregory out with an ankle injury, it meant young Jamie Abram had to shoulder the dummy-half responsibility for most of the game.

Roughyeds toiled to match Bradford’s physicality. Liam Kirk and Danny Bridge played much of the game with their heads strapped up and there was an incident just before half-time when the strong-running and battle-hardened Dupree had to go off for treatment after going down in a tackle which Brad Milligan placed on report.

He resumed for the second half to show Bradford that theirs were not the only forwards who could mix it a bit as Roughyeds finally got into the game after taking a hiding before the interval.

Bulls won the toss and chose to play downhill and their powerful pack established the platform from which on-loan half-back Joe Keyes, from Hull KR, produced a master-class performance which destroyed the spirited, but outclassed, home side.

Bulls were without three senior half-backs because of injury but in this his second game during an emergency loan, Keyes virtually ran the game himself and provided the one big difference between the sides - quality.

Oldham matched their opponents for spirit, effort, desire and commitment, but they didn’t have the Keyes class, epitomised by his three tries, one penalty goal and eight conversions.

He joined the Bulls as a replacement for long-term injury victim Danny Brough and he has already shown, in wins against Batley Bulldogs and Oldham, that he has the skills and the attacking x-factor to fill the void.

From an Oldham perspective, who are just four points to their name, McDermott knows now the size of the task ahead of him and Brendan Sheridan if they are to keep Roughyeds in the second-tier.

They face a herculean task, but McDermott saw something in how the side grew in strength when playing downhill in the second half and, like he said, there was something there on which to build.

Ben Holcroft, on the left wing, scored the first Oldham try after quick movement of the ball featuring Danny Langtree and Max Roberts.

Martyn Reilly is congratulated by teammates after scoring his try

Martyn Reilly is congratulated by teammates after scoring his try

Prop Martyn Reilly, who also stood lout in the second half, with Dupree, crashed over for the second on a flat ball from dummy half by Jamie Abram.

Lewis Charnock’s clever little kick provided the third try for Dan Abram, and the Roughyeds’ fourth and final try came two minutes from the end when Dupree crowned his powerful display by crashing over after a mighty break by Reilly.

With those two to the fore, Oldham’s forwards got better and better in the second half.

Just a pity about what happened earlier when the Bulls took control from the start - and Keyes unlocked the home defence with ease.