Featherstone Rovers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22
WHEN the sides destined for promotion to next season's First Division stopped fighting each other at The Watersheddings yesterday, Oldham reaped the reward for recovering their composure the better, writes Dave Hadfield.
Virtually all the players were involved in a 17th-minute brawl and, when it was over, Featherstone had one player in the blood bin and Oldham had two. Brendon Tuuta was sent off for delivering the punch that resulted in Oldham's Nigel Heslop receiving treatment, while the home side's Se'e Solomona was dismissed for his part in the mayhem.
Featherstone edged ahead with a try by Francis Maloney, but Martin Strett's penalty levelled the scores and a clever ball from Rowland Phillips allowed Shane Tupaea in for their first try. A goal and a penalty from Strett gave them an eight- point lead at half-time, but Paul Newlove's break put Featherstone's Owen Simpson over soon afterwards.
Phillips's running and handling began the move for Iva Ropati to stretch Oldham's lead again, but Featherstone came back through Martin Pearson. Ropati's second try, from Wally Gibson's excellent pass 12 minutes from time, put them in a winning position, although Newlove's try made for a tense last couple of minutes.
Rovers, who had already beaten Oldham three times this season and had not lost in the Second Division for 18 matches, will still go up as champions. Yesterday will be a warning to them that they will have to watch their discipline in the top flight.
Oldham: Gibson; Heslop (Phillips, 18), Ropati, Abram, Tyrer; Strett, Devine; Solomona, Russell (Stephenson, 29), Sheals, Olsen (Heslop, 55), Tupaea (Olsen 74), Bradbury.
Featherstone Rovers: Pearson; Butt, Manning, Newlove, Simpson; Maloney, Daunt; Casey (Burton, 62), Wilson, Taeketa (Rose, 70), Price, Smales (Casey, 76), Tuuta.
Referee: P Gilmour (Barrow).