ROUGHYEDS came out on top in a close contest at the Vestacare Stadium, as they beat an in-form North Wales side 37-24, writes Kasey Smith.

Going into the game, Crusaders had won five of their last six and, until the last ten minutes, there was not much to separate the two sides.

Oldham – off the back of two straight losses and last week’s non-event – struggled to gain a stranglehold on North Wales but they managed the game well, ensuring they did not surrender another lead.

Roughyeds had plenty of chances to score in the first 20, but were not ruthless enough with just one scored in that period.

Emmerson Whittel, a consistent performer for Oldham, caused Crusaders numerous problems with his carries and he was rewarded with his first try of the campaign in the second half.

Nick Rawsthorne, who has been getting better every week, produced a strong performance with some good carries, as well as getting two tries to his name – and he could have had more.

Not long after the game kicked off, he was pushed into touch before he could ground the ball in the corner.

Then Kieran Tyrer went close, as he pounced on Martyn Ridyard’s grubber kick, but the ball was spilled as he attempted to score.

The pressure finally paid off when Oldham overloaded men on the right, and as it was shifted wide, McNally found Rawsthorne in the corner who dived over to score.

Oldham failed to keep the momentum going, though, after a chance was wasted when they knocked on close to the line.

On several of North Wales’ last play kicks, rather than look to find a way in, they hammered the ball into touch, as they tried to win the territory battle.

Despite their best efforts, Oldham kept the pressure on with a Ridyard 40/20 followed by two penalties, but their momentum was short-lived when they knocked on.

North Wales, a side known for their size, levelled the scores after former Oldham man Jordan Andrade barged his way over after a strong carry, and shortly after they took the lead through Chris Barratt who forced his way in.

The lead was short lived, as Oldham levelled the scores just before half time with that same move, with Rawsthorne leaping to score on the right.

Roughyeds continued where they left off, and after a huge Ridyard kick – which North Wales could only knock on – Whittel found his way in to score.

Shortly after, Connor Carr spotted a gap as he put Oldham two scores in front. But North Wales were let back in when Oldham failed to collect the ball from the kick off as they conceded a goal-line drop-out.

Crusaders took the invite and Andrade used all his weight to force his way over under the sticks to make the score 24-18.

Oldham hit back with some pressure of their own and it paid off when Kian Morgan scored after spotting a gap to ease through the Crusaders defence.

But then, as Oldham were bringing the ball forward after the restart, winger Josh Lynch dived out of the Crusaders line as he snatched Ah Van’s pass and ran up the field to score unopposed.

After some Crusaders pressure, Oldham looked to see the game out with a drop-goal, but hearts were in mouths when McNally’s attempt was charged down – luckily he dived on the loose ball.

Oldham didn’t make the same mistake twice, though, as the ever-dependable Ridyard hammered one over the posts.

And any hope of a Crusaders comeback was killed off when Kieran Tyrer got Oldham’s sixth try after spotting a gap.

OLDHAM: McNally; Rawsthorne, Carr, Morgan, Ah Van; Ridyard, Tyrer; Moran, Wilkinson, Nelmes, Hirst, Cameron, Whittel. Subs: Slater, Meadows, Newton, Wilson (all used). 18th Man: Blagbrough.

CRUSADERS: Hill; Lynch, Taylor, Holmes, Massam; Gibbons, Billsborough; Hazard, Rainford, Barratt, Ellis, Fletcher, Forster. Subs: Andrade, Houghton, Nash, Baxter (all used).

Referee: Brad Milligan; HT: 12-12; Pens: 7-3; Att: 734