Rowley gives Oldham a slick demonstration

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Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

Oldham 4 Halifax 21

Two perfect records survived at the Watersheddings last night - Halifax's status as the only unbeaten side apart from Wigan and Oldham's woeful sequence of four straight defeats so far this season. The difference between top and bottom of the Centenary Championship, however, was purely one of taking chances.

Until they were hopelessly adrift in this match, Oldham squandered all their opportunities, negating their dominant share of possession by throwing panic-stricken final passes when the try line beckoned.

Halifax, and their hooker, Paul Rowley, in particular, gave them a painful lesson in opportunism from which they never recovered.

There was a large slice of luck about Halifax's first try in the second minute, Carl Briggs' kick ballooning off an attempt at a charge down for Simon Baldwin to feed the powerful Paul Moriarty.

But Rowley's two long range tries on either side of half-time showed all the sharp finishing instincts that Oldham lacked.

With four goals from John Schuster and a drop goal from Briggs, Halifax were in a commanding position, although Oldham again enjoyed the larger share of the game territorially in the second half.

It was not until they were faced with 11 men, though, that they overcame their try-scoring phobia. With Briggs in the sin-bin for holding down, swiftly followed by Karl Harrison when he threw the ball at John Clarke, Oldham finally got over through Darren Abram.

Once restored to their full complement, Halifax's capable defence absorbed the little that Oldham had to offer without difficulty.

The one thought that should nag at them as they prepare for their next game against Wigan is that they cannot afford to give them a fraction of the chances Oldham wasted last night.

Oldham: Gibson, Belle, Atcheson, Abram, Neal, Maloney, Crompton, (Gartland, 69) Sherratt, Clarke, (Topping, 73) Gildart, (Richards, 47), Lord, Faimalo, Hill. Substitute not used: Parr.

Halifax: Umaga, Bentley, Schuster, Baldwin, Preston, (Ekoku, 61), Anderson (Southernwood, 75), Briggs, Harrison, Rowley, W Jackson (Fieldhouse 54 mins), Moriarty, M Jackson, Divorty (Gillespie, 49)

Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).

n Malcolm Reilly's Newcastle Knights advanced to the second stage of the Winfield Cup play-offs with a 20-10 victory over North Sydney in the opening elimination final.

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