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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Haven’s game of two halves

IT was a tale of two diverse halves as Haven roared back after the break to share the spoils against lively Oldham.

Two entirely different starting sides were fielded in each half by the hosts, and there was a marked upturn in their performance in the second 40 minutes.

Haven looked lethargic for much of the first-half, despite the impressive prompting of stand-off Carl Rudd and second-row Luke Isakka, and they trailed 16-6 at the break.

They lifted a gear when Dave Houghton came off the bench, and he carried on his great work in the second-half.

Powerful in the collision and dangerous in the off-load department, it was an encouraging home debut for the ex-Widnes prop.

Danny Barker showed great initiative to score his first-half try, and Chris Fleming might have done his hopes of securing a wing berth no harm with his second-half score, in which fancy footwork and pace were to the fore.

It was in marked contrast to the early action with Haven slow out of the blocks, and the Roughyeds scored first, hooker John Clough taking Alex Thompson’s offload to touch down, Jamie Dallimore converting.

Oldham spilled the re-start and Carl Sice made good ground after prop Paul Cullnean released the ball in the tackle.

Rudd’s attacking kick was knocked dead at the end of the set, ensuring Haven retained possession.

On their next set, prop Matthew Haggerty was tackled high, and from the resulting penalty, Barker was held up over the try-line.

Haven again kept possession and Barker dashed on to his own grubber to score. Rudd’s fine conversion levelled matter.

Two tries in three minutes then put the visitors in command. The first came when Danny Whitmore’s superb long pass stretched the Haven defence and winger John Gillam went over in the corner.

Miles Greenwood then got on the end of a short, angled kick over the defence to touch down, Dallimore slotting the extras.

Haven looked to possibly have blown their chances when the influential Lee Doran was sin-binned for ball-stealing on 49 minutes.

But they held firm, Howard Hill producing a fine tackle to deny second-row Neil Rigby a try.

The Cumbrians enjoyed the better of the final quarter and Fleming set them on their way on 61 minutes, hoofing ahead Ben Karalius’s short stab in midfield to score, Jonathan Youds converting.

No sooner had Haven gained momentum than it was lost. Martin O’Neill fumbled from dummy-half and Dallimore produced a neat sidestep to score. His conversion made it 22-12.

Haven forced the restart in to touch and from the possession, Bradd Crellin’s pass put O’Neill in for a try.

The hosts were now pressing hard, and when Karalius put Doran in to space, he found Youds who made good ground.

Moments later Doran shrugged off his marker and a long pass to the flank saw Hamzat fly in near the corner flag.

Rudd kept his cool to land the kick to level the scores and ensure an exciting finale.

The re-start was spilled and Haven had to defend a set deep in their own half.

An attacking end-of-set kick looked to have pinned Hamzat behind his line, only for the elusive youngster to work wonders and trick his way back in to play.

On the final whistle it was Haven on the attack, though a draw was a fair result.

It means Oldham retain the SEAT Trophy they won last year, though bigger battles now lie ahead for both sides.

Match facts

Haven - first half: Benson, Ackerley, Wiper, McAvoy, Calvert, George, Rudd, Cullnean, Sice, Haggerty, Isakka, Barker, Cunningham. Subs: Smith, Houghton, Hill, Beattie.

Second-half: O’Neill, Fleming, Youds, Wilson, Hamzat, Bauer, Karalius, Houghton, Gee, Hill, Beattie, Doran, Crellin. Subs: Smith, Isakka, Haggerty, Cullnean, Rudd, McAvoy.

Tries: Barker, Fleming, O’Neill, Hamzat

Goals: Rudd 2, Youds 1

Oldham: Greenwood, Robinson, Fogarty, Cookson, Gillam, Reid, Dallimore, Stenchion, Clough, Boults, Clarke, Rigby, Thompson. Subs: Ellison, Smith, Whitemore, Rigby, Bentley, McCully, Lantree.

Tries: Clough, Gillam, Greenwood, Dallimore

Goals: Dallimore 3

Referee: J Cobb

Attendance: 402

Star Man: Dave Houghton

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