Grim signs in Oldham's capitulation

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The Independent Online
Halifax 40 Oldham 12

Something had to give in what might be the last league match at Thrum Hall when the two worst current records in Super League collided yesterday, writes Dave Hadfield. It was Halifax's 13-match losing run that ended, taking with it Oldham's best remaining chance of avoiding relegation.

Oldham's disappointment was made all the more bitter by the fact that for most of the first half they were in a position to win this match. But as so often after a run such as theirs, which stretches back to May for its last league win, the whole world seems to be against you.

The pivotal moment came under bizarre circumstances six minutes before half-time, with Oldham leading 8-4. Martin Moana made a dangerous break, but it was Paul Atcheson's collision with the referee, Russell Smith, that allowed him to go through and score.

The try and two goals from Martin Pearson put Halifax ahead at half-time, but even they would not have expected Oldham's collapse after the interval. In 16 minutes midway through the second half they conceded 26 points.

"I've seen the worst 40 minutes we've produced all season," said Bob Lindner, the Oldham coach. "That try was a turning point, but the real turning point was when we started dropping the ball time after time."

Damien Munro started the points rush and the skilful distribution of Moana laid on further tries for Craig Dean and Munro again. Michael Jackson then had the simple task of going over unmarked from acting half and Paul Davidson's late effort for Oldham was an empty gesture.

Oldham started the afternoon with another piece of misfortune, Ian Russell tearing a calf muscle in the warm-up and playing no part in the game. Despite that, they led through Davidson's first try and two goals from Francis Maloney.

Against a side as short of confidence as Halifax, the opportunity was there for Oldham to lift themselves from the foot of the table. Instead, they remain anchored to last place and the smart money now has to be on them finishing the season there.

Halifax: Umaga; Tuilagi, Pearson, Bouveng, Amone; Moana, Dean; Harrison, Rowley, Gillespie, Highton, Jackson, Baldwin. Substitutes used: Chester, Marns, Boothroyd, D Munro.

Oldham: Atcheson; Ranson, Hill, Topping, Jones; Maloney, Goodwin; Gildart, Stevenson, Temu, Davidson, Faimalo, M Munro. Substitutes used: Lord, Cowan, McKinney.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

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