CRAIG Lingard admitted his fringe players failed to impress as Cougars' difficult pre-season campaign continued with a 52-6 thrashing at Oldham.

The Keighley head coach watched his side concede nine tries on a tough afternoon in the Roughyeds' return to their base at Whitebank following two seasons at Stalybridge.

Playing on their newly-installed 4G pitch, the relegated hosts are likely to be in contention for a swift return to the Championship.

But a frustrated Lingard said: “I gave the fringe players an opportunity this week and they had a chance to put their hands up and take a step forward to cement a place in the first-team squad and they didn’t do that.

“We’ve got eight or nine first-team regulars who didn't play. They’ve been given that opportunity to rest and those faces will be coming into the side for the Leeds game this week.

“Our preparations for Sunday’s game were frustrating. We lost Lewis Fairhurst in the morning through illness. He was due to be playing half-back so we had to play the game with just one half-back and that was disappointing.

“We’d identified, both in the build-up to the match and at half-time, that Oldham wouldn't play massively expansive rugby and would play what, for me, is a really simplistic game of high completion, and really tough and aggressive carries.

“We could have controlled it a little bit more around the ruck but we didn’t and that was the inexperience of the people that were out there.

"When the lads who didn’t play on Sunday come back in then hopefully they will identify that.

“Sunday identified that those who are on the periphery of the first team and are on the fringes are just not good enough.”

The strength and physicality of the Roughyeds backs was on show from the off as Levy Nzoungou led from the front. He set up the opening try with a flick pass to Dave Hewitt, who weaved his way to the line.

Hewitt then cut his way through the Cougars defence once more, this time putting one on a plate for trialist Zack McComb.

The onslaught on the Cougars line continued as Steven Nield became the third scorer of the afternoon, powering his way through from close range.

Nzoungou turned from provider to scorer shortly before half-time as he went over, despite the best efforts of Harry Aaronson to stop him.

The second half began with the home side extending their lead as Danny Langtree produced a superb short ball into the hands of Danny Rasool, who broke free to the line for a walk-in try.

There was brief concern on the injury front as Benn Hardcastle was forced off the field, although thankfully it was nothing more than a hyper-extension of the elbow.

Roughyeds hooker Matty Wilkinson began to cause Cougars problems and clever play from the nine opened the door for Phil Joy to maraud over.

With the game now comfortably won, there was some exhibition rugby from Oldham as Joe Martin kept the ball alive and played it quickly across the line to Rasool, who grabbed his second try.

Having been 'nilled' the previous week against Batley, Cougars ended a 161-minute wait for points on the back of a knock-on from the restart, Brendon Rawlins powering his way over on his first appearance of 2018.

Another Wilkinson break led to Oldham's next try as it led to a two-on-one in the hosts' favour, with Danny Bridge racing round behind the sticks.

Hewitt then grabbed his second try from an Oldham break to complete the scoring.


COUGARS: Hawkyard 6; Dixon 5; Leeming 6; Ryder 5; Aaronson 6; Hardcastle 5; Gaylor 6; Law 5; Lumb 5; Hallas 5; Senior 5; Parker 5; Rawlins 6. Subs: Barnes 5; Reed 6; Kenga 5; Panter 5; Walter 5; Barker 6; Ross 5.

OLDHAM: Nield 6; West 5; McComb 5; Holmes 5; Eccleston 5; Crook 7; Hewitt 7; Joy 6; Wilkinson 7; Bennion 6; Bridge 5; Langtree 6; Spencer 5. Subs: Neal 5; Martin 5; Rasool 6; Maders 5; Nzoungou 7; Barlow 5; Briscoe 5; Nelmes 6.