High-flying Saddleworth Rangers A were the latest visitors to Greenhalgh’s Pavilion this weekend.
The game started slowly with both teams taking their time to settle in, however, it was the Away side who opened the scoring when the left Centre barged his way over. A second try soon followed when a barnstorming run from the Second Rower burst through the defensive line and saw him finish close to the posts. A successful conversion gave Rangers a 10-0 lead.
We eased our way back into the game with some strong drives from Props Neil Kelly and Jason Nuttall, this laid the platform for Half Backs Ste Hickey and Martin Galland to link up play with the Mets back line. Despite going close on a couple of occasions we couldn’t quite get our first score of the day.
Saddleworth capitalised with two quick fire tries at the other end to increase their lead, the first was a dive over from close range by the Hooker, the second was a little tougher to take as it came on the back of a Mets attack only inches from the line. A loose pass from acting half back wasn’t dealt with and a couple of hacks up field saw the Rangers Winger win the foot race to the line.
A fifth try before half time opened up a 24-0 lead for the visitors but despite some lax defending at times we did put on a far superior showing than our previous outing versus Leyland Warriors A.
Already this season we have seen father and son pairing Darren Robinson Snr and Darren Robinson Jnr take to the field together for the first time, but on Saturday they were also joined by Gareth Evans and his offspring Tom Evans, the latter making his Mets and Rugby League debut. Tom was playing on the Wing and was certainly making his mark with some solid tackles and strong ball carries. He was complemented on the opposite Wing by Matt Chowdhury, whose speedy scoots from dummy half caused all sorts of problems for the Rangers defence.
Two further tries took the score to 34-0 with 55 minutes on the clock, but in patches we were playing some decent rugby.
Saddleworth currently have the second best defence in the league, so scoring tries against them wasn’t going to be easy. However, we did manage it around the hour mark when returning Loose Forward Josh Bourne steamrollered his way to the line for a four pointer.
A dislocated/broken thumb for Neil Kelly ended his day, plus knocks for Gareth Evans and Darren Robinson Snr meant the bench suddenly became a little sparse. Encouraging spells from forwards Gavin Corfield and Harry Dawber helped make the big yards forward, before several attempts to release Tom Evans were thwarted by the Rangers defence.
As seems to be the case most weeks, the last 15 minutes of the game is where we seem to tire and allow the opposition to extend their lead further. Saddlworth used their interchange bench well and introduced a couple of experienced players to deliver that killer blow. Four further tries followed prior to the final whistle to take the score to 54-4 and a comprehensive victory for the men from Oldham.
Making his debut and coming up against players twice his age, and possibly size, Tom Evans was easily the Top Tackler of the day. He followed this up with a runner up spot in the Opposition Man of the Match award, along with Matt Chowdhury, but it was Ryan Terry top of the tree yet again, claiming his sixth MOM in 11 games.
Next week it the big one, the Home derby versus Bury Broncos A and a chance for us to avenge the two point defeat from earlier in the season. The game will have a 2.30pm KO at Greenhalgh’s Pavilion and all side line support will be greatly appreciated.
*Picture: Jackie Clowes