In a thrilling encounter at the Vestacare/Whitebank Stadium in Oldham, Hunslet’s four-match unbeaten run was brought to a halt as the Roughyeds emerged victorious in the latter stages, outclassing the out-of-sorts Parksiders.
Both Oldham and Hunslet, occupying the third and fourth positions in the league respectively, entered this game with aspirations of leapfrogging Doncaster into the coveted second spot, if only for a day before the Dons faced off against the Midlands Hurricanes.
Right from the start, it was Hunslet who seized the initiative, exerting immense pressure on the Oldham defence. Their persistence paid off when, after a close attempt by Joe Burton, quick hands found Jack Render in the corner, scoring a try within six minutes of the game, with the scoreline reading 0-4.
Despite Hunslet’s relentless pressure, Oldham exhibited resolute defence. And soon, after Hunslet were penalised for a stealing infringement, the Roughyeds found themselves in a promising position near the visitors’ try-line. A well-executed offload from the tackle allowed Matthew Wilkinson to dart over from close range, catching Hunslet off guard. Martyn Ridyard converted the try, giving Oldham a 6-4 lead.
The game witnessed a back-and-forth battle, with Hunslet levelling the score through a penalty by Matthew Beharrell for tripping. They then took the lead with a second penalty, as Oldham’s play-the-ball actions were deemed problematic, resulting in a 6-8 scoreline.
However, in the 24th minute, Martyn Ridyard showcased his skill by drawing in Hunslet’s defence and delivering a precise long pass to Joe Hartley, who found the corner of the field for a try. Ridyard successfully converted, putting Oldham back in the lead at 12-8.
Hunslet’s forwards proved to be a handful for the home team, as Steve Crossley and Josh Jordan-Roberts made significant yards. Capitalising on a superb break by Joe Burton, Nathan Conroy executed a clever dummy near the posts, allowing him to sneak over for a try. Matthew Beharrell’s conversion put Hunslet ahead once again at 12-14.
The Parksiders sought to solidify their position, and with favourable field position, they appeared likely to score. However, a stray pass was intercepted by Connor Carr. While Carr didn’t seem poised to score, the Hunslet defenders inadvertently impeded each other, enabling Carr to wriggle free and complete the try. Ridyard converted, extending Oldham’s lead to 18-14.
Moments before halftime, it seemed as though Hunslet had snatched the lead, but Adam Ryder’s effort was disallowed due to a forward pass. As the teams headed into the break, the score remained 18-14, with neither side gaining complete control of the game.
Hunslet started the second half invigorated and, thanks to Beharrell forcing a drop-out, they managed to send Jonny Campbell over in the corner through excellent passing. Beharrell’s successful conversion nudged Hunslet ahead at 18-20.
The time was ripe for Hunslet to seize control of the game, but the Roughyeds retaliated as former Parksider Jordan Paga was tackled high, leading to a penalty for Oldham. Ridyard made no mistake with the kick, levelling the scores at 20-20.
Although Hunslet regained possession from the kick-off, they couldn’t convert it into a try. Beharrell’s kick was slightly too strong, allowing Oldham to survive the mounting pressure.
It was Oldham who broke the deadlock on the 53rd minute when a well-timed inside pass from Martyn Ridyard set up Patrick Ah Van for a try, catching the Hunslet defence off guard. The scoreline now stood at 26-20 in favour of the home side.
The game continued in a “you score, we score” fashion, with Hunslet looking to equalise as they launched a relentless assault on Oldham’s territory. It appeared that Adam Ryder had broken free for a potential try, but the referee pulled it back, ruling a forward pass and saving the Roughyeds. Moments later, quick passing allowed Patrick Ah Van to cross over in the left corner, with Ridyard’s successful conversion extending the home side’s lead to 32-20.
With a 12-point deficit to overcome on a scorching hot day, reducing the gap proved to be an arduous task for Hunslet. A late tackle on Ridyard led to a penalty, which he duly converted, propelling Oldham to a commanding 34-20 lead—a three-score advantage that proved insurmountable.
In an enthralling match, the Roughyeds showcased their mettle in the latter stages, securing victory over Hunslet and bringing an end to their impressive unbeaten run. The Parksiders, on the other hand, struggled to find their rhythm throughout the game, ultimately succumbing to a resilient Oldham side.