By Joshua Chapman (@Chapalar)
Jordan Aitchison got the game under way and from the first tackle Oldham knocked on. The resulting scrum saw Keighley easily make their way through the Oldham defence with Kyle Akrigg offloading with ease to Luke Moorby who went into the corner to give Cougars the lead in less than a minute. Ben Stead then converted fantastically to put the Cougars six up.
Cougars pushed forward again from kick off but play were halted after an injury was sustained by Oldham prop Aaron Hall in the tackle. After the kick on the last, Oldham got possession off the ball and won a penalty following interference in the tackle. Oldham threatened to cross for their first try of the game but knocked on after some tough Cougars defending.
Cougars chased the kick on the last from the resulting set fantastically to keep Oldham trapped in their own half but Oldham won a penalty for offside before giving the Cougars back with a sloppy forward pass to loose forward Liam Thompson.
With Aaron Hall departing after showing signs of the injury he picked up in the early stages, Oldham with possession back in their hands kept pushing forward only to surrender possession after a forward pass sent Nile Bradley roaring to the line but the referee dragged play back and awarded the Cougars a penalty.
Cougars lost the ball on a turnover from the set following the penalty and were nearly punished as Rick Warn threatened to break the line only to be halted by a fantastic challenge by Ben Stead, Oldham kicked the ball into the in goal area and forced a goal line drop out and from the goal line drop out valuable metres were made through Jordan Morris and then Brad Hargreaves.
Oldham kept pushing on the Cougars line and was nearly rewarded with Phil Bickerstaff chipping over the top and only narrowly missing out on touching down his own kick which lost the visitors possession back to the hosts.
Sean Kelly broke the Cougars line and the visitors would have been again if the ball hadn’t of dipped just before reaching the hands of the on rushing Rob Hawthorne and nearly crossed but the Ben Stead kick trickled out of play.
From the twenty metre restart, Oldham pushed forward and a Sam Singleton kick despite being well chased by Brad Hargreaves saw and a quick twenty metre restart from Jordan Aitchison allowed the Cougars to push forward and some clever play from Sam Kelly and Luke Robinson allowed Martyn Broadley to cross for the Cougars second try of the evening. Ben Stead then converted with ease to double the Cougars advantage.
Cougars pushed forward from the restart and would have been in again if the referee hadn’t of disallowed a Rob Hawthorne try for a knock on from Sean Kelly moments before the centre had touched down.
Possession then continued to change hands with most of the action taking place in the Cougars half of the field and the constant swip swap continued but was slowed down following a wild offload turned knock on by Adam Reardon and from the resulting scrum, Tom Flanagan broke the line and crossed with ease underneath the sticks to bring Oldham onto the scoreboard. The standoff then converted his own try to half the deficit between the two sides.
It didn’t take the Cougars long to pressure Oldham on their own line again with some lovely play between Jordan Aitchison and Andy Walker being halted after the winger was dragged into touch by the Oldham defence.
Jordan Aitchison then started another quick tap and run on the twenty after the ball was kicked into touch and was too quick for his own good and forced to go re-tap before they squandered possession after another sloppy knock on by Adam Reardon.
Oldham then pressured the home sides line with Andy Ball being held on the line before they kicked into touch on the last yet again, the Cougars had a slow set but nearly got lucky as Reece Whitfield was caught by the bobble of the ball and was forced to throw it into touch with Luke Moorby rushing towards him which gave the Cougars a scrum.
Jordan Aitchison continued to cause the Roughyeds problems and was halted by a tackle from Mike Halsall before a quick offload from a tackle on saw the ball find its way to Luke Moorby who forced his way over to grab his second of the game. Ben Stead then sent over another fantastic kick from the touchline to put the Cougars back into a twelve point lead.
A quick change of possession on the turnover presented Oldham the opportunity to try score again but the Cougars defence held tough with Llewelyn Chapman winning the hosts possession with a sloppy intercept. Cougars then could have got through again but Ben Stead kicked through and upon regaining the ball knocked on.
Oldham then kicked a 40-20 from the fourth tackle to give them a scrum near to the Cougars line but from the scrum, Nile Bradley knocked on from the pass out and surrendered possession back to Keighley sloppily once again.
Cougars took advantage of the gaps in the Oldham line once again and were rewarded with some clever play down the left wing sending Adam Reardon in to extend the Cougars lead. Ben Stead then for the third time in the encounter kicked from the touchline to keep his 100% record up and leaving Oldham with it all to do heading into the half time interval.
Cougars started where they left off at the beginning of the second half with Luke Robinson breaking the line and making a good forty metres. And from the last, Ben Stead kicked over the top with Rob Hawthorne flicking back to Josh Lynam who fought his way over to put the game out of the visitors reach. Ben Stead however sliced the conversion just wide of the sticks.
From the kick off, Cougars picked Oldham apart with some slick passing and great movement and this allowed Josh Lynam to break the line and cross for his and the Cougars second try in the matter of three minutes. Ben Stead however missed the conversion again.
A fantastic kick on the last by Ben Stead gave Oldham something to think about and the bobble of the ball gave Rick Warn no option but to see the ball out of play and give away a scrum just ten metres from the line. And from a fantastic Joe Lumb offload, Luke Moorby found his way in the corner for another try. Ben Stead then converted again after a shaky start to the second forty.
Oldham finally got themselves a solid set of possession and Tyrone Parsonage broke the line for the visitors but some sold Cougars defence lead by Liam Whiting didn’t give Oldham a sniff but they did nearly score from the kick on the last but the Cougars got the ball out of play to get a twenty metre restart.
Oldham were struggling to even get a sniff and some more fantastic running by Jordan Aitchison threatened to get Cougars close to scoring but play was halted as in the tackle on Tom Courtney, Oldham prop Jordan Morris was knocked flat out which caused the clock to be stopped.
From the restart, the Cougars kicked and gave the visitors possession for only the second time in the opening third of the second half. Oldham like they had for the rest of the game posed no serious threat of scoring and this was shown as Jordan Aitchison broke the line only to be halted by a suspiciously high tackle but Josh Lynam knocked on in the tackle.
Some more clever play by the Cougars came in their next set, with Sean Kelly and then Jordan Aitchison both sending Josh Lynam in to complete his hat-trick. Ben Stead then missed the resulting conversion. This try meant Josh had become the second player of the evening after team mate Luke Moorby to grab him three tries against a fragile Oldham defence.
Oldham then began to threaten the Cougars line with Andy Ball and then Rick Warn being halted by last ditch tackles, with the Cougars regaining possession after a wild offload by the latter. The referee took a back seat when he was probably most needed with Oldham constantly throwing elbows and interfering during tackles and Cougars then forced a goal line dropout with Rick Warn being trapped in goal following a Ben Stead kick.
Tom Courtney then broke the Oldham line with ease as the Cougars had done throughout the evening but then gave away a sloppy penalty for obstruction. The referee then took backstage when he should of been centre stage again not penalising Nile Bradley for a high shot with the shoulder.
This did not deterrent the Cougars as they continued to push to extend their lead but were thwarted as Mike Halsall collected a Ben Stead kick before Sam Singleton broke the line and ran a full eighty metres to get Oldham another try. Tom Flanagan then converted to make the score line somewhat respectable for the visitors.
And this seemed to bring out a spark from the visitors as from the resulting set they broke the Cougars line once again with Brad Hargreaves this time the man to complete the move and score the try. Tom Flangan converted once again.
Cougars began to show signs of complacency and this showed as Jack Sherratt broke the Cougars line but surrendered possession with a wild offload which had haunted the visitors throughout the game and some clever offloads by Sean Kelly and Ben Stead proved the catalyst for Cougars and this was shown as Ben Hawthorne battled his way over to extend the Cougars lead.
Cougars let complacency show again as they allowed the short kick off to bounce out of play which gave the visitors a scrum. Oldham showed tiredness as they sloppily threw away possession moments before the hooter which allowed the Cougars one last attack which they won a penalty from for an Oldham offside. Cougars came close with Luke Robinson but gave away a penalty on the line to give Oldham a scrum. The Oldham set brought the game to an end.
Cougars XIII: Aitchison, Moorby, Akrigg, Hawthorne, Walker, Stead, Chapman, Patchett, Kelly, Courtney, Lynam, Broadley, Reardon. Interchanges: Lumb, Connell, Robinson, Whiting
Oldham XIII: Halsall, Warn, Bickerstaff, Bradley, Whitfield, Flanagan, Singleton, Hall, Foreman, Morris, Rasool, Hargreaves, Thompson. Interchanges: Ball, Sherratt, Ashbrook, Parsonage