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Rochdale Too Strong for Local Rivals  Rochdale 15 Eccles 12

Rochdale saw the return of Travis Townsend at Scrum Half and Richard West at Centre for the visit of Eccles both sides have had a tricky start to the new season but last year’s game at Moorgate Avenue was a close run thing with Dale winning by the odd point. Both sides like to run the ball and on a fine day with little wind the prospects for some open flowing rugby were good.

The first quarter saw both sides attacking but mistakes and a string of penalties on both sides broke up play until finally Callum Duffin collected a high kick in his 22 metre area and returned the ball into touch in the Eccles half they were penalized for a short throw and from the scrum Dale pushed forward well and the visitors were again penalized for holding down on their own 10 metre line. The line out was won by Dale and Jim Flitcroft was unlucky to be brought down with only just short of the line. Eccles lost the ball going forward in their own 22 and Dale’s pack kept the ball in the scrum and drove over the line for the opening try. Townsend converted to make it 7-0 on 30 mins.

Eccles made several good attacks into the Dale half but good tackling and some dropped ball cost them dearly, they did however get a penalty just outside the home side’s 22 and elected to kick but the ball veered to the left just missing the upright.

Dale now had several good chances with West, Duffin and Adie Sutherland making good ground. The pressure told on 40 mins, when the home side were awarded yet another penalty this time right in front of the posts Travis making no mistake to take the score to 10-0 both sides still in with chances but dropped passes and niggling penalties stopped any more scoring before half time.

The second half started with Josh Schofield going forward until he was high tackled by Eccles No. 8 Joe Dale who escaped a yellow card for reasons best known to the referee, fortunately Schofield was able to continue, West kicked high into the Eccles 10 metre area and the Rochdale pack piled in on the full back who attempted to clear only have his kick charged down going forward off one of his own players from the scrum Rochdale attempted a scissors move which went astray the ball being intercepted on the 5 metre line by Eccles centre Tom Waring who ran the full length of the pitch chased by Duffin who he tried to side step but who caught him he managed to let the ball go to a supporting player who scored further out. This was converted to make it a close 10-7 after 55 mins.

Ten minutes later Dale were back in front after a series of attacks failed to reach the line they were awarded another penalty for offside and after a huge kick from West, a Dale line out l in the Eccles 22 was taken well again and the ball taken in by the pack who steam rollered their way over in the corner for a well deserved second try the conversion being missed 15-7 with just over 15 mins left.

Eccles had a great chance when they broke away down the middle from another interception and seemed almost certain to score in the corner but the last pass managed to go forward and the try was disallowed by the ref.

The scrum  was won by Dale and cleared by West deep into the visitors half,  Try as they might Dale could find no way through the Eccles defence and as the game ebbed and flowed it was they who got the next chance to score with a penalty from 30 metres out which flew just wide….. Still 15-7 with 5 mins left. Dale kept on attacking but still their efforts were unrewarded, they were penalized for holding on and from the resultant penalty the visitors had a line out on the Dale 22. They won the ball and got it out to the winger who for once got the better of opposite number Rob Willets rounding him and scoring in the corner 15-12 with conversion missed.

The last 3 mins was all action with both sides throwing everything in to get the winning score, West was yellow carded for a block tackle on the Eccles 22 and they pushed on to half way winning a scrum, Townsend who had had a great game had to be replaced and on came young Danny Joesbury to play scrum half he caught his Eccles opposite number at the base of the scrum and held him up a penalty was awarded to Dale and a very relieved Adie Sutherland slammed the ball into touch to hear the referee’s whistle blow for full time.

A very entertaining game ended 15-12 to Dale who it has to be said made life hard for themselves at times but battled for a result against a very game Eccles side.

Dave  Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.