GARSTANG started the new year in fine style as they travelled to Oldham and left with an excellent 29-7 victory following a superb performance.
With a strong squad to call upon, the team were boosted by the return of both current and former skippers Orr and Richardson, who had to settle for places on the bench due to the strength of the players available.
The game started at a frantic pace with Garstang immediately getting themselves on the front foot however they were frequently let down by a lack of control at contact.
With 15 minutes played Garstang were awarded a penalty wide out. Jimmy McLennan’s effort was struck well enough but it rebounded off the post, Chaplin won the follow up to the ball but was held up just short. Garstang recycled but frustratingly lost the ball in another collision and the chance was spurned.
Moments later another Garstang attack broke down and Oldham broke quickly when their number ten sped down the touchline before drawing the last man and passing to his team mate who sped through to score under the sticks (7-0).
From a position of dominance Garstang found themselves behind and under pressure. A further series of breaks led to Oldham being camped on the Garstang line but the defensive line held firm and repelled them. With time running out in the half Nickson had to leave the field following a knock to the head and he was replaced by Winkler.
As the half drew to a close, Garstang had another opportunity close to the line.
This time they made no mistake as they remained composed and recycled the ball several times.
Eventually Kelsall went for the line but he was held up inches short, Brown followed in and scooped the ball up before diving over the line. The conversion went wide but Garstang were back in the game at 7-5.
During the aftermath of the try an Oldham player committed an act which can only be described as disgusting and the Garstang players were incensed.
The referee did not see the incident so he settled for talking to the Oldham player in question.
This moment changed the mood and feeling of the game and Garstang responded in the best way possible. From the kick-off, the ball was smashed forward by Parkinson, recycled a couple of times and then spread out wide to Winkler. The giant winger scorched down the touchline to outpace the covering defenders before stepping the full back and going over the line to score a sensational try which gave Garstang a deserved 10-7 half-time lead.
At the break the inspirational skipper Orr was introduced and this gave the team the belief that they really could win the game.
The second period started as the first had ended with Garstang dominating and they were now starting to eliminate the mistakes which the early part of the first half had been littered with.
A period of sustained pressure led to Orr going over for a great try: he punched through a gap but was tackled short of the line.
However, he had the presence of mind to lunge out with the ball grasped in his giant paw and dot the ball down on the line. Robinson added the conversion and the lead was extended to 17-7.
The home team were getting frustrated at this point and the game started to take on a nasty edge. Garstang had managed to maintain their cool but McLennan took exception to a piece of foul play which the referee missed. His backchat was not appreciated by the official and he despatched McLennan to the sin bin for ten minutes. Things were evened up soon after as an Oldham man also found himself in the cooler.
By now Oldham’s composure was totally gone and when they spilled the ball in midfield Garstang took another opportunity to capitalise.
The ball was hacked forward but the full-back looked to have it covered. He hadn’t counted on Winkler, though, who dived full-length to get there first and then he stretched over to add his second.
Robinson added the conversion and the four try bonus point was already in the bag at 24-7.
Oldham’s indiscipline continued to dog them and their full-back totally lost the plot when he thought he had been tackled late. He was given a straight red card for throwing punches at John Robinson.
A fifth try for Robinson was the icing on the cake as Garstang sealed the win through Robinson.
Garstang: Miller, Anscomb, Pendlebury, Raby, Parkinson, Slater, Pye, Kelsall, Brown, Robinson, Walling, McLennan, Chaplin, Nickson, Bell. Replacements: Orr, Richardson, Winkler. Coach: Harvey Jones.
n THE Blues had another disappointing day with a 27-6 defeat against Aldwinians 3rds.
On Saturday, January 14, the First XV and the Blues are both at home against Birchfield and Leigh Thirds respectively. Both games kick-off at 2.15pm.