Game Eighteen – Oldham v Rochdale (10/3/13)
No work on Sunday, so I head to the delights of Oldham’s Whitebank home, a somewhat basic ground to put it (very) kindly.
Back to basics: Oldham's Whitebank home
Much as I try after the opening weeks of the season, it’s impossible to avoid the dreaded dual registration issue for a derby that I’ve been going to since the age of five.
Roughyeds coach Scott Naylor made a very public declaration that he wouldn’t be using any of the players on offer from Salford, feeling that his own contracted squad members would be of best use against Oldham’s local rivals.
In contrast, Hornets decide to break up the halfback partnership that had trained together all winter and put Gateshead to the sword, in order to accommodate St Helens first teamer Lee Gaskell.
By the time Gaskell is switched to re-unite Paul Crook and Steve Roper in the second half, the game is already beyond the visitors, who are outplayed and out-enthused by a motivated Roughyeds side.
By some distance the best halfback on display is Oldham’s Jamie Dallimore, whose desire in scoring one try from a ball steal and another in chasing his own kick shines through on a bitterly cold afternoon.
As a Rochdale lad, the coming and going of St Helens first teamers for one week at a time still doesn’t sit well – last weekend’s star performer Tom Makinson spent Sunday turning out for Whitehaven. Is this really the best plan for the development of one of the country’s leading young players?
And if Hornets are to keep their own supporters onside and avoid the kind of jibes that greet them both from Oldham supporters at the end, and opposition players on Twitter later on, they would be advised not to have coaching staff and substitutes in St Helens branded clothing during matches.