Rugby League: Widnes punished for sins

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The Independent Online
Oldham. .29

Widnes. . 0

OLDHAM were far too good for a full Widnes side, let alone the 11 men with whom they finished after having two forwards sent off in the second half of a one-sided affair at the Watersheddings, writes Dave Hadfield.

A vastly improved Oldham, far more organised than during a start to the season that marked them out as relegation candidates, had Widnes under pressure from the start.

The driving runs of Ian Sherratt were an impressive feature and it was one of them that set up Martin Crompton for the third-minute drop goal that put them ahead.

Widnes, another side who have been pulling themselves together recently, had to defend diligently to restrict Oldham to another two points in the first half hour - a Paul Topping penalty after Craig Makin had held down John Clarke.

Oldham's own tackling was good enough to close down Widnes whenever they showed attacking intentions. That set the scene for the boot of Crompton to swing the match sharply in their direction.

It was his towering kick that enabled Gary Lord to leap above Jason Green and Karle Hammond and, after a touch of juggling, get the ball down for the first try, converted by Topping.

Before half-time, Crompton created a try for himself, kicking from acting half-back after David Jones had been held just short of the try line and then taking advantage of a sleepy Widnes defence to dive over.

Widnes began the second half with a dispirited air about them and soon had reason to look even more depressed. A glorious wide run by Mike Kuiti did the damage and an equally good pass to Scott Ranson laid on the try, again improved by Topping.

Oldham were now thoroughly enjoying their domination a First Division match and Shaun Irwin took a sharp pass off Topping's hip for their fourth try. An already hopeless situation became irretrievable when Mike O'Neill was sent off for a high tackle on Wally Gibson to reduce Widnes to 12 men. The seal was then set on an excellent victory when Crompton's pass bounced kindly to set up Darren Abram.

Widnes completed a disastrous night when Andy Ireland joined O'Neill in the dressing-room when he was sent off for a high tackle on Crompton. Topping then added to the score with a penalty in injury time.

Oldham: Gibson; Jones (Heslop, 63), Irwin, Abram, Ranson; Topping, Crompton (Sherratt, 79); Sherratt (Parr, 76), Clarke, Parr (Temu, 52), Lord, Faimalo, Kuiti.

Widnes: Spruce; Green, Hammond, Wright, Hadley; Singleton (Ruane, 39), P Hulme; Ireland (McCurrie, 23), Smith (Ireland, 63), Makin (Smith, 71), Hansen, O'Neill, Collier.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).

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