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Rochdale remain in second last place in the league and were beaten at home by Northwich after being ahead for several times during an entertaining match.

Failure to pass late fitness tests left Jim Flitcroft and Josh Schofield on the sidelines. Rochdale needing all their available players succumbed once again to a late surge by their opponents. With 25 minutes to go Dale were ahead when Oliver Coldman slotted an easy penalty to lead 13-12. The home side were exerting plenty of pressure on the Northwich line but indecision and some poor handling cost them dear and Northwich were able to clear. One of several excellent breaks by the Northwich flanker six, saw him surge 25 metres then place a deft kick ahead, with two more passes Northwich had the lead and didn’t look in doubt again.

Earlier Rochdale had taken the lead when Aaron Howorth crossed the line wide out on the right after a very good crossfield move, Coldman missed the extras. This was after 15 minutes of both sides testing each other out, and much of that time was spent between the twenty two’s.

Northwich were in good form and nice ball exchange between their centres produced a good try close by the posts. Good angles and straight running was the key to this one. Converted, and the visitors had a 5 – 7 advantage.

Rochdale continued to apply pressure to the Northwich line and a long kick and chase by Coldman gave Dale possession on the five metre line. An indiscretion by the visiting eight saw the referee produce a yellow card and ten minutes in the bin awaited him. From the penalty Rochdale drove several times for the line without success and James Duffy produced a lovely kick over the defence and out wide on the right, Aaron Howorth who played well throughout, caught the kick and was tackled but not before offloading to Coldman who was backing up well and he crashed over the try line. Coldman was unable to convert and Rochdale again led 10-7.

Straight after the turnaround Dale started to attack the Northwich line. Several passes in to a move Duffy passed the ball out to the right, only to be intercepted by the Northwich six, who raced 65 metres into the corner. Not the start Rochdale wanted. Jonny Bradley continued his excellent line out throws throughout the match, from one of these came Rochdale’s last points of the match, after some deliberate ball handling on the floor Coldman dispatched an easy penalty.

At 13-12 up and plenty of time left Rochdale had the platform to go further ahead. Northwich though had other thoughts and upped their game, after scoring again coach Mick Gould added the replacements but Rochdale for all their endeavour could not get another score. Jake Castree, Rob Wadsworth and Tom Callaghan had played their parts well and the changes were rung.

Northwich added a penalty after a Dale defender was penalised for not releasing the player after a tackle and three minutes from time they scored an uncoverted try in the gloom.

Three of the last four games Rochdale have had the lead with not too long to go but this has led to no points, something they have to address before travelling to the last game of the year up in Workington next Saturday. Life is tough at the bottom but there is still plenty of time left for fortunes to change.