Kitchin sinks lax Oldham

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Rugby League

Oldham 27 Workington Town 29

Workington Town celebrated as though they had won the Cup after a remarkable fight-back brought them their first Super League victory yesterday and suggested that all may not yet be lost on the Cumbrian coast.

Trailing 22-8 at half-time, Workington showed a self-belief which might easily have worn away by this stage of a trying season. In a thrilling finish, it was the kicking of their stand-off, Wayne Kitchin, that brought them level with a drop goal and then, in the final minute, gave them the long-awaited win with a penalty after Martin Crompton had been caught offside.

Workington were manoeuvring for another drop goal when Crompton strayed from his mark and Kitchin, only kicking because Dean Marwood was off the field injured, made no mistake from what nervous kickers will forever call the Don Fox position, right in front of the sticks.

It was a reward for determination in the face of seemingly hopeless circumstances. Workington's tendency to drop the ball in the tackle was the biggest factor in Oldham taking an 18-2 lead after little more than a quarter of the match. With Jason Temu and John Clarke, in particular, clattering into their ribs, Town seemed determined to give the ball and the game away, with Adrian Belle, Clarke and Paul Atcheson all capitalising with tries.

The first sign of a backlash from Workington came when Brad Nairn's pass sent Jason Palmada striding through, but when Belle claimed his second, Oldham went in well in command.

It was a different Workington side after the break, with Leigh Smith pouncing on a clever angled kick from Marwood to score. Two penalties from Francis Maloney gave Oldham an extra cushion as Workington suffered the loss of Marwood with a damaged leg and the sin-binning of their captain, Rowland Phillips, for holding down in the tackle.

Instead of bemoaning their luck, the Cumbrians rolled their sleeves up and, with Oldham losing their early momentum, drew level with tries from Mark Wallace and Lafaele Filipo, both converted by Kitchin.

Oldham were reduced to 12 men themselves when Matt Munro followed Phillips to the sin bin, but edged back in front when Crompton landed a drop goal. That was surely it for Town, but back they came again, Kitchin equalising three minutes from time and then keeping his nerve for that invaluable winner.

The Oldham coach Andy Goodway refused to blame the penalty decision for this embarrassing defeat. "The blame the players, no one else," he said.

For the Workington coach, Ross O'Reilly, the result was a vindication of his belief that the club is not a lost cause. "We might not have the classiest players in the competition, but there was a lot of will to win out there today and we will shock some more teams," he said.

Oldham: Atcheson; Belle, Abram, Patmore, Myler; Maloney, Crompton; Gildart, Clarke, Temu, Faimalo, Munro, Lord. Substitutes used: Davidson, Sherratt, Topping.

Workington Town: Livett; Wallace, Penrice, Allen, L Smith; Kitchin, Marwood; Armstrong, McKenzie, Phillips, Palmada, Holgate, Nairn. Substitutes used: Burns, Bethwaite, Filipo, J Smith.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

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