Oldham 14 Workington Town 16

Tenacious Workington Town picked up their third win in a row with a rousing team performance on a baking-hot day in Oldham.

Reversing a heavy defeat by the Roughyeds at Derwent Park in April, Leon Pryce’s men produced a performance on the Vestacare Stadium’s artificial pitch that was over-flowing with heart, honesty, desire and total commitment.

Typical of what Town had to offer on a day when temperatures nudged the 30s was the individual offering of loose-forward Steve Scholey, who played the full 80 minutes with a show described by head coach Pryce as “phenomenal”.

He was full of praise for each of his 17 heroes, whose hard-fought triumph in a tough, physical encounter enhanced Town’s play-off chances and consolidated their position in the current play-off four.

It was a victory based on teamwork from 1 to 17, but there were eye-catching individual performances from full-back Elliot Miller, man-of-the-match Jamie Doran at stand-off, Scholey and all-action Fuifui Moimoi, who didn’t do as many minutes as several of his pack colleagues, but certainly made an impact when he was on the field.

Club skipper Oliver Wilkes led from the front where the battle was at its fiercest – up the middle – and both Sam Wood at right-centre and Ben Morris in the second-row did more than enough to indicate that Pryce’s recruitment policy is on the right lines.

Oldham, whose eight-game winning streak ended at Hunslet seven days earlier, set a hot pace.

They soon had Town under pressure and went ahead after 13 minutes when left-centre Matt Reid crossed for the opening try wide out on Danny Bridge’s defence-splitting pass.

The usually-reliable Paul Crook was wide of the mark with his conversion attempt, but he wasn’t the only marksman to find that it wasn’t easy kicking goals in such temperatures and off the artificial pitch.

There was nothing “artificial” about the fully-blown performances from both sides, who each deserved a medal for providing such gripping entertainment on a day when most folk would be sunning themselves in the garden or at the seaside.

Nevertheless, Crook managed only one goal from three shots while Town must have been kicking themselves at half-time for fluffing four two-pointers, two by Carl Forber and others by Wood and Doran.

Even so, Town were full value for their 10-4 interval lead thanks to tries by Morris in the 23rd minute and Miller in the 25th – a two-try salvo that had Oldham reeling after their early promise.

Doran’s excellent kicking game constantly troubled the home side and it was the stand-off’s slide-rule chip that paved the way for Morris to open Town’s account.

Forber kicked the goal, but was off-target a couple of minutes later when the impressive Miller soared high to collect a Doran bomb, though challenged by home full-back Kyran Johnson, and raced home from 10 metres out to score.

It was pay-back time for Miller, whose early fumble off a Crook up-and-under gave Oldham the possession and field position to mount the pressure that ultimately produced Reid’s opening try for the home side.

Town looked comfortable seven minutes into the second half when right-wing Joe Hambley fastened on to yet another Doran grubber kick to score a third try in the corner. This time, Wood kicked the goal off the touchline and Town led 16-4.

They hadn’t bargained, though, for a spirited Oldham rally which produced tries for left-wing Ben West and full-back Johnson, the latter improved by Crook which cut Town’s lead to two points with a quarter of an hour left.

It was nip and tuck after that and Town brought back Moimoi off the bench for a second spell in a bid to keep Oldham at bay. He wasn’t to last long, though, because he was soon sin-binned for a high tackle on West.

Buoyed by their numerical advantage and sensing that Town were struggling, Oldham threw everything at the visitors’ defence in the closing stages, but Pryce’s heroes held firm despite some anxious moments which had the visitors’ vocal fans reaching for their tranquillisers.

The nearest Oldham came to snatching victory from the jaws of defeat came on the very last play of the game when West looked like winning it with a try in the corner until Hambley came to Town’s rescue by knocking the ball out of his grasp and into touch.

It was as close – and as exciting – as that.


OLDHAM: Johnson; Eccleston, McComb, Reid, West; Crook, Hewitt; Joy, Owen, Spencer, Bridge, Briscoe, Bent. Subs: Wilkinson, Jones, Nelmes, Rasool.

Tries: Reid (13), West (59), Johnson (66).

Goals: Crook 1/3

Card: yellow for West (36) for technical offence

TOWN: Miller; Hambley, Wood, K Maudling, Patrick; Doran, Forber; Wilkes, Penkywicz, Curwen, Moore, Morris, Scholey. Subs: Newton, Dawson, Rooke, Moimoi.

Tries: Morris (23), Miller (25), Hambley (47).

Goals: Forber 1/3; Wood 1/2.

Card: yellow for Moimoi (68) for high tackle.

HT: 4-10

Penalties: 12-8

Referee: Tom Crashley

Attendance: 486

Star man: Jamie Doran (Town)