U15s Cup campaign starts with a win
By Richard Culver
Strong display against a tough tackling Oldham side, wrapping up the contest by half-time.
A strong squad assembled on a mild morning, perfect playing conditions with a confident Oldham side looking to maintain their strong start in this years Lancashire Cup pool stage.
Illness deprived Oldham of a full 15, meaning 14 a side, but 8 man scrums.
MV lined up
2 Will C (captain)
9 Will R
14 Oli B
A strong bench; Charlie H, Charlie B, Alastair, Ali, Matthew, Franklyn
The opening exchanges were scrappy, the home side enjoyed the lions share of possession but some handling errors and some good scrambled defence prevented the opening score.
After 5 minutes the pressure eventually told, a loose ball was tidied up by Will C, he released Oli and his pass allowed Azzanne to cross from close range. Jack added the extras.
Oli was soon back in the thick of things, a strong break looked like yielding another 5 pointer, but an excellent cover tackle stopped him short. Oldham however infringed at the ruck, and from the penalty Ethan took the ball on and again, Azzanne was on hand to apply the finish. Jack again slotting the conversion. 14-0.
Oldham were struggling to hold on, and some eye catching rugby allowed MV to stretch their lead, some patient play was rewarded when Jacob found himself with room, he drew the final covering defender and fed Oli for a deserved try. Another 2 for Jack. 21-0.
Oldham started to up their game, but they were guilty of leaving no full back in position, Nick cleverly kicked deep and turned the Oldham defence, Oli won the foot race to the ball, but another last ditch tackle stopped his 2nd try, but Rafi was on hand to score, his first try in our colours. Jack had his kicking boots on, 28-0.
To be fair to Oldham the next 7-8 minutes saw them dominate possession and territory, a series of penalties keeping the home side penned in their 22. Yousuf prevented a try with an excellent tackle and turnover, Ali was making some good hits, but a couple of knocks meant that Dan, Will and Azzanne were in need of some time on the sidelines, and eventually Oldham profited, their 10 scoring a good try, but missing the conversion.
From the restart Oldham struggled to get out of their half and some good pressure allowed Charlie B to send Tom over for the decisive score. Jacks extras took the score to 30 points and signalled the end of the contest.
Overall a good performance with some areas to work on, notably the need to maintain discipline and intensity in the pack, however this was a bruising encounter, with Oldham not frightened of making the tackles, and most of the MV pack needed treatment as the game developed.
Will R was excellent at 9, and kept a high tempo throughout, with Jack and Nick distributing well from 10 and 12. Azzanne was a handful, his attacking play was particularly strong, whilst Oli had a great game on the wing. They were named as joint man of the match.
A 30 minute development half was played, Oldham loaning Rafi and Jack, and adding a couple of tries in a good spell, with the home side adding 6 more including a try on debut from Franklyn, and some extended game time for Matt.
Many thanks to Tim, Josh and all of the Oldham lads, a good bunch who play hard but within the spirit of the game, and to their good humoured and noisy band of travelling supporters!