Monday, 13 July 2015

... One Step Back...

Oldham 38 - Hornets 18

If it’s the expectation that kills you, this game dealt the noisy Hornets following a proper kick in the spuds.

Having rushed into an early lead in a nip and tuck first half in which the momentum swung like a pendulum, Hornets were undone in a second half littered with penalties, lousy refereeng decisions and some pretty ordinary defence.

It took just six minutes for Hornets to leap into a teasing lead: a big show & go by Paul Crook opened up the home defence, his drop-off to Danny Yates who went desperately close. Hornets sprayed the ball wide, but couldn’t find an opening. Switching direction, it was Paul Crook who finally found a way through, mugging Oldham fron acting half. He stroked the conversion home from the touchline and Hornets looked sound at 0-6.

And when Oldham’s stretched defence almost decapitated Ryan Smith four minutes later, Crooky stretched the lead to 0-8.

As the game became loose, rattled by a series of dropped ball and curious penalties, Oldham took full advantage. Quick hands into space out wide saw Clay score by the flag. 4-8

On 20 minutes another surreal refereeing decision: a big hit by Danny Bridge knocked the ball loose in the tackle, but Ref. Mr Sweet gave a penalty for ripping the ball. Oldham capitalised as Huddersfield DR Jake Connor scored through a stretched defence. 8-all. The home side now with the momentum.

A Jack Ashworth intercept on 23 minutes looked to have temporarily repelled the danger, but he showed his inexperience in trying to do too much on the first tackle and compounded his fumbled carry with a penalty for dissent. This was rapidly followed by another penalty for interference: this time Oldham held-up over the line. Hornets under the cosh.

Two minutes later an Oldham player (we were unsighted) fumbled the ball reaching into the in-goal. Hornets’ response was to cough the ball first tackle.

Having defended for close on 15 minutes, he inevitable came when Crowley, Tyson and Roper combined to send Palfrey under the posts from 30 metres, Palfrey with a simple two, Oldham in front 14-8.

With half time looming Hornets launched an increasingly rare attack, Lee Paterson arriving at pace off a lovely flat ball to score. Danny Yates the two and the sides heading for the sheds locked up at 14-all.

The second half began with Hornets on top. Oldham dumped the kick-off straight out, Hornets ground Oldham back up the hill and Danny Bridge battled his way through the tightest of gaps to score: 18-14.

Then it all kinda just ground to a halt. As the penalty and error count mounted (Hornets shipped 13 penalties in this game - three of them ‘doubles’ for dissent after a penalty decision) Oldham just stuck to their basic gameplan of playing quick, direct football, while Hornets watched the game slide irrevocably away.

Tries by Fairbank, Gee and Owen kept the scoreboard ticking over at steady intervals, and a late-late effort from Crowley gave the scoreline a blow-out feel.

In the end this was a disappointing effort. Having played the lion’s share of the football in the early stages, Hornets became stuck in reverse as the game unravelled around them. Needless to say, the Oldham contingent celebrated like they’d won a final (as if such a thing were possible!) and they relentlessly took the piss as the Hornets supporters left, wondering what the bloody hell had happened.

Positives? Not many to be honest. Good to see Gaz Langley back, though he had little to do on either attack or defence; Woz Thompson took Hornets forward as best he could, and Paul Crook and Wayne English tried hard to create a spark: all to little avail.

With Swinton, York and Crusaders all nailing big wins onto ’southern’ opposition - and six of the top eight playing each other next week - it’s imperative that Hornets shake of this torpor and use next weekend’s game against Coventry to get the show back on the rails.