North Wales Crusaders set a new club record of eight consecutive wins as they kept up their impressive start to the League 1 campaign.
The opening stages of the match were arguably some of the best you’ll see in the third tier this season as both teams completed high, got into an arm wrestle and were waiting to see who’d crack first.
It was Crusaders’ Gav Rodden who came up with a moment of individual brilliance to open the scoring and the home side went on to dominate from there, gradually wearing Oldham down.
But this was another real test of North Wales’ character as, after losing both Rodden and Rob Massam to injury, Anthony Murray needed to shuffle his side around and play a number of people out of position.
Even though Oldham hit back in the second-half after finding themselves 30-0 down around the hour mark, Crusaders held on for another valuable two points to keep their 100 per cent record intact.
The Welshmen took the lead when Rodden decided to run the ball on the short side, somehow managed to keep himself in the field of play and had the pace to knock off a number of attempted tackles on his way to the line.
After receiving a penalty near the sticks and given how tight the match was up until this point, Crusaders opted to kick for goal, with Tommy Johnson extending their advantage to 8-0.
North Wales’ second try of the afternoon came soon after as Jordy Gibson lofted a high kick to the left corner and Massam collected to cut inside, crashing over the line from close range.
With half-time fast approaching, Gibson landed a superb 40-20 and that set up the field position for Crusaders to add another through Rodden, who touched down an inch-perfect grubber kick for his second.
Gibson then went from provider to scorer early in the second-half as offloads in the tackle from both Brad Brennan and Chris Barratt created the space for him to twist over the line.
The halfback was yet again involved with Crusaders’ next score as another perfectly-weighted grubber kick found Alex Eckley in the right place to touch down.
Oldham needed a way back into the match and had some joy with short kick-offs, helping set up the field position for Billy Yarrow to scoot over from acting half.
With Crusaders having to shuffle their side because of those injuries, you could tell they were tiring and holes were starting to appear.
James Thornton, who had a spell on loan at North Wales last season, barged over down the right to reduce the deficit to 30-10.
Despite Brad Jinks adding Oldham’s third late on, Crusaders’ cushion was always going to be comfortable enough.
Both sides ended the match with 12 men as Dave Hewitt and Jordy Gibson were sent off for fighting.
1 Tommy Johnson
2 Pat Ah Van
4 Gav Rodden
5 Rob Massam
6 Jordy Gibson
7 Brad Billsborough
8 Callum Hazzard
20 Ben Moores
10 Chris Barratt
11 Kieran Sherratt
12 Alex Eckley
13 Matt Fletcher
Subs (all used)
9 Callum Wood
15 Brad Brennan
16 Jack Houghton
30 Aaron Hall
Tries: Rodden (18, 35), Massam (29), Gibson (48), Eckley (56)
Goals: Johnson 5/6
Dismissal: Gibson (79 – fighting)
1 Owen Restall
5 Ben Holcroft
31 Connor Carr
23 Kian Morgan
18 Joe Hartley
6 Martyn Ridyard
7 Dave Hewitt
8 Luke Nelmes
9 Brad Jinks
10 Tom Spencer
30 Dan Windrow
24 Ethan Ferry
13 Emmerson Whittel
Subs (all used)
34 Billy Yarrow
16 James Thornton
15 Jordan Andrade
32 Nyle Flynn
Tries: Yarrow (59), Thornton (66), Jinks (75)
Goals: Ridyard 2/3
Dismissal: Hewitt (79 – fighting)
Referee: Michael Mannifield
Crusaders MOTM: Jordy Gibson – the halfback had a hand in a lot of what Crusaders did well, setting up three tries, scoring another and generally dictating play for his side.