Featherstone 24 Oldham 6: McHugh opportunism lifts Featherstone to old heights

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The Independent Online

Featherstone, one of the great over-achievers in rugby league history, reclaimed their place in National League One which they lost two years ago with three tries in the 10 minutes on either side of half-time to brush aside Oldham.

The opportunism of their centre Wayne McHugh brought him two of those tries, the result of well-timed runs on to kicks from Andy Kain and Gavin Swinson. In between, Paul Handforth, who formed a lively and creative half-back partnership with Kain, dummied his way over to help ensure that Rovers will join Celtic Crusaders in the higher division next season.

Oldham, who have regrouped so successfully this season, after failing to win a single match in 2006, led against the run of play coming up to the break, with Adam Hughes scoring the first try of the match after he intercepted Handforth's pass. The Featherstone pack had been in control in the middle of the park, but the Yorkshire side could have started to worry if they had not taken a try-scoring chance before the break.

After that, not even the sending off of Richard Blakeway, for headbutting Oldham's best player, Rob Roberts, could deter them. The 12 men kept their shape and defensive enthusiasm as they played out time with the help of two drop-goals from Loz Wildbore.

The signs are that Featherstone will be able to compete at a higher level, while the challenge for Oldham is to hold together this side for another stab at promotion next year.

Featherstone: Wildbore; Kirmond, Whittle, McHugh, Adebisi; Kain, Handforth; Handford, McLocklan, Dickens, Field, Blakeway, Haughay. Substitutes: Benn, I Tonks, Houston, Swinson.

Oldham: Langley; Ford, Littler, Hughes, Onyango; Roden, Coyle; T Tonks, Hoyle, Murvill, Sinfield, Roberts, Costin. Substitutes: Hodson, Wilkinson, Tamghart, Brooks.

Referee: G Hewer (Whitehaven).

l Featherstone Lions gave the village further reason to celebrate when they won the Rugby League Conference Grand Final by beating Bramley 42-30.