Chances Missed by Struggling Dale
If ever a game was a five pointer this one was, with Rochdale anchored in the bottom three of the division and having had their last two games postponed due to the weather and their visitors just above them also desperate for points.
On a sunny and calm afternoon at Moorgate Avenue Dale took the game to the visitors from the off, despite still having missing players in key roles the home side looked keen and with youth in the backs and pack their fitness was never in doubt.
Strong breaks by Richard West and Travis Townsend saw Dale advance into the West Park 22 only to have dropped passes lack of support at the breakdown cost them the ball and put the visitors back in the driving seat.
Rochdale had newcomer Gee Desousa in the second row and his physical presence gave West Parks’ pack problems along with Chris Hodgkinson at number eight breaking from the back of the scrum and making good yards on several occasions.
Dale defended well when the visitors broke back with Ross Hartley tackling above his weight as usual supported by captain Tom Callaghan in the pack.
After a penalty and a long period of pressure in the West Park half the visitors were penalised for a high tackle on Danny Joesbury from the resulting line out Dale got a good maul going led by Desousa who slipped the ball to Ross Hartley by the post to crash over, James Duffy slotted the conversion to make it 7-0 after 15 mins and the game was there for the winning.
West Park responded with good runs by their huge No. 4 Kurt Riley but Dale defended gamely and held the visitors at bay until dropped ball or penalties put them back on the attack a long kick saw Dale in the West Park 22 and indiscipline by the visitors saw Dale with a penalty popped into the corner for a line out on the 5 metre line the ball was smuggled out wide by West and Townsend and young winger Anthony Burleigh scored a great try in the corner, conversion just short from the touchline 12-0 with 40 mins. gone.
From the re-start however some indecision in catching the high ball led to West Park winning the ball inside Dale’s 22 and a strong run by Tony Jones their out half saw the centre Potter score right on half time, with the conversion missed. 12-5 H.T.
The next score would be crucial and both sides looked determined to get it , the visitors battered their way down the right flank and after a good passing move scored in the corner the conversion followed 12-12. Within minutes West Park were back in the same position and with their scrum half and fly half controlling the play they set up the winger to go in again in almost the same spot. The conversion fell short 12-17 . Rochdale were not finished yet and with Jonny Mair and Tom Helliwell coming on they had a renewed thrust in attack, West and Townsend showed what they could do and after a fine passing move it was Travis Townsend who broke the line for a much deserved try, the conversion fell just short so 17-17 , 10 mins left on the clock.
The game was end to end with both side squandering chances with dropped passes and penalties given away one such penalty saw the visitors with a 5 metre scrum the ball came back for the No. 10 to slot a drop goal right in front of the posts 17-20. The last 5 mins was frantic with both sides trying to finish the game on top. Dale had a great chance after West Park conceded two penalties in their own 22 but brave runs by West and Castree were held up just short and as the referee blew it was a case of what might have been for Dale. Next weeks trip to Warrington becomes a must win as will all the remaining games.
Dave Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.