Rugby Union: Maloney destroys Leeds

Oldham Bears 25 Leeds 16
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LEEDS'S misery goes on after defeat last night at Oldham. It was their fourth in the first four games of the Super League season. Their disarray was apparent in their dreadful start and, although they forced their way back to within one point after 50 minutes, they were, overall, a poor second best to a side who played with far more determination.

Regular ventures by Leeds into the transfer market make it almost inevitable that their former players frequently inflict damage on them. Francis Maloney, discarded after a brief reign as their latest boy wonder, duly did so in the seventh minute, handing off Gary Mercer to make a clean break through the visitors' defence and serve up the ball for Paul Atcheson. Maloney added the goal and his half-back partner, Martin Crompton, soon chipped in with a dropped goal.

It was Maloney and Crompton who began the move that put a rampant Oldham even more firmly in control. Atcheson seemed to have lost track of Andrew Patmore in support, but located the Australian again in time to slip him the pass for his side's second try. Crompton, alive to every gap in an untidy Leeds defence, grabbed the third when he darted between three players and managed to get the ball down as he was flipped over.

A 17-point lead, completed by Maloney's conversion, was a fair reflection of the vastly different levels of enthusiasm of the two teams, but Leeds finally stirred themselves on the half hour. It was the former Oldham forward, Barrie McDermott, who started it with a strong run and, when Graham Holroyd got the ball to Jim Fallon on the right wing, he was powerful enough to barge over in the corner.

The Leeds revival continued when Holroyd hit Kevin Iro with a fine long pass and he, too, forced his way over the try line before Holroyd's goal left them with a much more manageable task in the second half.

Holroyd's long ball again opened up play for Adrian Morley, allowing him to release Iro for a converted try to bring the visitors within one point of their rivals. Morley had a try disallowed and Leeds stepped up the pressure, while Howard Hill wasted an opportunity for Oldham at the other end with the game in the balance.

A Maloney penalty after Anthony Gibbons had been sin-binned swung the balance slightly in Oldham's favour. With eight minutes left and Leeds still short-handed, Crompton wriggled through for his second, with Maloney contributing his fourth goal.

Like Crompton's first try, it needed video evidence to confirm its validity. When Leeds study the video of the game, it will do nothing but confirm that there is a huge amount of work to be done at Headingley.

Oldham: Atcheson, Leuila, Patmore, Abram, Belle, Maloney, Crompton, Gildart, Clarke, Temu, Lord, Munro, Hill.

Substitutes: Topping, Faimalo, Bradbury, Nuttall.

Leeds: A Gibbons, Fallon, Iro, Hassan, Gleadhill, Cummins, Holroyd, Howard, Shaw, Fozzard, Mann, Morley, Mercer.

Substitutes: D Gibbons, Golden, McDermott, Schultz.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).