Sunday, 29 November 2015

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Whitehaven hold all the aces in the pack to sink Oldham

Whitehaven 42 Oldham 20: Struggling Oldham came out firing after their ‘cards on the table’ meeting last week, but it was Haven who held the aces in the pack yesterday.

Luke Isakka photo
Luke Isakka is stopped

Workaholic Dave Houghton produced a tremendous 70-minute effort at prop, adding a try for good measure, while hooker Carl Sice consistently dazzled the defence with his fancy footwork.

Full of confidence, perhaps after his man of the tournament effort for Cumbria in the Rugby League Nines, five days earlier, Sice was close to his superb best.

And behind the pack was stand-off Jamie Rooney, whose first-half performance was on a par with any 40-minutes seen from a Haven player this term.

The second of his two conversions brought up his 3,000th point in the pro ranks. Rooney’s tactical kicking game was peerless, and his willingness to spread the play gave Jessie Joe Parker the chance on several occasions to show what he can do when afforded space to work.

After a winless eight-game spree, Oldham needed a victory to realistically stay in the Championship One promotion race, and they started strongly, Haven paying the price for failing to stop the visitors’ off-loads, centre Mark McCully crossing in the fifth minute.

Oldham looked to stretch their lead on the next set, full-back Andreas Bauer playing with a handful of stitches in his cheek after suffering a bad gash at Workington last week, knocking the ball dead. Paul Noone fumbled Rooney’s drop-out to end the danger, and on 11 minutes, Rooney’s fine long pass saw Parker make ground in to Oldham territory.

On the next play, Rooney’s long, looping kick to the left was taken by Craig Calvert, who crossed in the corner, Carl Rudd adding the first of his five conversions.

Sice’s outstanding footwork saw him carve another gap on 17 minutes, and with the Roughyeds struggling to regroup, Rooney lofted another pinpoint kick, this time to the right corner, for Max Wiper to score.

Oldham still posed a threat, and Bauer did well to dive at full stretch to knock dead Neil Roden’s dab over the Haven line, with the dangerous Miles Greenwood bearing down.

Rooney was producing his full arsenal of kicks at the other end of the pitch, and when his teasing lob over the defence was fumbled, Parker was on hand to touch down.

The hosts stretched their lead on the next set, Rooney again giving the ball air and finding Parker, who obliged with another break deep in to enemy territory before finding Rooney on his inside.

The stand-off could well have scored, but with the cover closing in he fed Calvert for his second try. The 24-6 scoreline reflected Haven’s dominance, though they blotted their copy book from the re-start, Houghton spilling the well-placed kick.

Haven were then penalised for a high tackle and Alex Thompson raced on to a flat pass to score.

Jamie Dallimore added the extras to make it 24-10 at the break, and the scrum-half also had a big say at the start of the second-half, dancing through on 46 minutes to reduce the deficit and then converting for good measure.

The Cumbrians had to score next to maintain their momentum, and Houghton obliged, steaming on to Lee Doran’s short pass to go between the sticks.

On-loan Widnes forward Anthony Mullally looks a fine prospect, and he worked wonders to force his way over the Oldham line under heavy pressure.

He was unable to ground the ball but Haven scored later in the set in any case.

Rooney collided with a team-mate as he headed to the left side on final tackle, which led him to turn right and feed Parker, the centre finding Andrew Beattie whose direct approach earned him a try.

Sice collected the re-start and raced 40 metres downfield, this time to no avail. Instead, Oldham were next to score after Rooney’s 40-20 attempt sailed out on the full.

Michael Ward scored the try and Sice then played his part in denying McCully a quick follow-up, the centre held up in-goal.

Sice, Rooney and Stephen Fox combined in a fantastic break, which ended with Bauer held fractionally short.

But Haven had the final say, Calvert collecting his own grubber to complete a well-deserved hat-trick.

Whitehaven: Bauer, Calvert, Parker, Fox, Wiper, Rooney, Rudd, Houghton, Sice, Cullnean, Beattie, Mullally, Doran. Subs: Gee, Isakka, Varkulis, Wilson.

Tries: Calvert 3, Wiper, Parker, Houghton, Beattie; Goals: Rudd 5, Rooney 2

Oldham: Greenwood, Foxen, Cookson, McCully, Gillam, Roden, Dallimore, Boults, Clough, Gilchrist, Noone, P Smith, Bentley. Subs: Ward, Thompson, Ellison, D Smith.

Tries: McCully, Thompson, Dallimore, Ward; Goals: Dallimore 2

Referee: Clint Sharrad

Attendance: 701

Star Man: Jamie Rooney




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