Rugby League: Oldham 58 South Wales Scorpions 2
By Roger Halstead at Whitebank Stadium
On a bad day all round for South Wales Scorpions, prop Scott Giles suffered a serious head injury in the first few minutes of the game at Oldham.
Play was held up for nearly ten minutes while medics took every precaution on the pitch before Giles was taken by ambulance to a neurological unit at Hope Hospital, Manchester.
Serious thought was given to calling for an air ambulance but in the end that was not considered necessary.
The game was only seven minutes old and Oldham were attacking just inside the Scorpions half when Giles went in to make a tackle and was knocked out.
“There was nothing malicious in the tackle. It was an accident,” said Scorpions coach Mike Grady, who only minutes later lost the services of full-back Jordan Sheridan with a thigh muscle injury.
Winger Chris Leyshon went to full-back, centre Matthew Wilcox moved to left-wing and Ashley Bateman came off the bench to fill in at left-centre.
Osian Phillips was already on as Giles’s replacement — and the game was still only ten minutes old.
That left Richard East and Dafydd Hellard as the only spare men, one returning after injury and the other having only just recovered from tonsillitis.
Added Grady: “We were down to the bare bones before the game started and then we suffered the loss of two key players in the first few minutes.
“We didn’t play smart rugby, but I can’t fault the determination and desire of the boys who put up their hand to have a go.
“To make matters worse it looks like Chris Leyshon has suffered broken ribs and Harrison Elliott took a nasty blow to the face.
“It was a tough day at the office for us. It’s tough to take, especially after our win at London Skolars, but if you don’t ‘turn up’ to play a team like Oldham they will make you pay.”
Scorpions had first use of the Whitebank slope and they made Oldham work hard in the first half without ever being in a position to apply serious and sustained pressure.
There were some nice touches by Connor Farrer and Paul Emanuelli, whose boot often kept Roughyeds pinned back, but in the main the visitors suffered the backlash of Oldham’s disappointing defeat at Hemel seven days earlier.
Coach Scott Naylor demanded a vastly improved defensive show and that’s what he got as Scorpions were restricted to a penalty goal from half way on the stroke of half-time by the sure-footed Emanuelli.
Oldham led 18-2 at half-time and in the second half, going down the hill, they totally dominated to finish with ten tries in total — seven of them in the second half.
Watched by Rugby League Wales president Mike Nicholas, injury-hit Scorpions never let their heads drop, but they needed everything to go right against a powerful Oldham side in their own backyard — and everything went wrong from the moment Scott Giles was injured in the opening minutes.