Rochdale RUFC 3 v 22 Blackburn
The old adage “ a good big man will always beat an equally good little man” was appropriate again today as the Rochdale forwards plied their trade Moorgate Ave.
Blackburn, though not the biggest pack in the league made their presence felt by scoring three good tries. The first of those came after twelve minutes with good support play enabling the winger to score out wide on the left, the cold stiff breeze making the conversion almost impossible 0 – 5. The Rochdale pack who lacked not in effort, tried to come to terms with their bigger rivals and made some good defensive work. James Duffy used the wind well in the first half and Rochdale’s only chances came from one of these. Dale had some pressure well into the Blackburn half and a penalty for offside had Oliver Coldman getting Dale off the mark. 3 – 5. Alas that was to be the only points Dale scored on the day. Richard West looked the only candidate able to break the Blackburn line with his strong running and was proving to be a handful for Blackburn. Ross Hartley tackled well early on but had his card marked by the referee who pointed toward the changing room door to quash further belligerence. Blackburn seemed to be living a charmed life after Dale were further penalised for foul play on the floor.
Winning their own lineout ball Blackburn scored again on 35 minutes wide left, and were to lead 3 – 10 at halftime. Somewhat unluckily, Richard West was stood too close to the action when the referee gave him a yellow card for persistent offending.
Rochdale remained resolute for much of the second half and at times had good possession, putting together eight or nine phases but they did not have the guile or strength to break the line. Veteran Neil Sunderland, pressed into the side with the lack of forwards, did show plenty of determination and was commended for his effort when replaced. Aiden Gleeson does have the ability and size to make ground in the centre, he showed this several times in the second half and will improve with more game time.
Blackburn drove the ball well all afternoon and showed their superior strength and weight in driving the ball over the line for the third try. Again unconverted.3 – 15. The Rochdale players never showed defeat or lessened their effort, they just could not break through the visitors defence. All the replacements were used after a nasty looking injury to Jamie Johnson and rest time awarded to Tom Callaghan.
Inexplicably the referee let Blackburn away with 9 consecutive penalties near the end of the game and then delivered the “coup de grace” to Rochdale by awarding a penalty try to Blackburn, therefore giving them a 5 point win with a bonus point for 4 tries. Blackburn did undoubtedly deserve their win, which now places Rochdale in the bottom two and the threat of a relegation battle to last most of the season.