Eccles 12 Rochdale 44
On a chilly afternoon at Gorton Street, Rochdale were determined to take maximum points from today’s opponents and fellow strugglers Eccles. Rochdale had to endure 10 mins of constant pressure from the home side and defended well to hold them at least 10 metres out, despite all their efforts Eccles could not break through. A penalty to Dale resulted in a line out on half way and it soon became clear that Jimmy Flitcroft , Dom Serridge and Josh Schofield would pass the ball and test the home defence fully.
One such attack saw Flitcroft beat three tackles and set up Serridge to cross the whitewash near the corner, the conversion was kicked by Oli Coldman 7-0.
Both sides had a series of attacks ending in penalties and thus releasing the pressure good kicking by Oli Coldman kept the play in the Eccles half and the home pack showed signs of tiring with the end to end style of the match. The smaller Dale pack captained by Tom Callaghan more than held their own and Chris Hodgkinson was dominant in the line out.
Scrum half Dan Joesbury was a constant threat breaking from the scrums and setting up other players to raid into the home side’s 22, in one such break Eccles were penalized on their 10 metre line and quick thinking Joesbury tapped and went on his own only being stopped just short of the line.
After 20 mins Dale were awarded another penalty on the Eccles 22, Coldman elected to take the points but the kick went just wide.
Dale were soon back on the attack and a nice passing move involving Joesbury and Serridge saw the ball go to winger Aaron Howorth who broke through to score in the corner the conversion was missed 12-0. On 25 mins and after some heroic defence Dale produced a great move with Flitcroft and Schofield combining to set up the ever willing No. 8 Hodgkinson to burst through under the posts to score giving an easy conversion to Coldman 19-0.
What a difference a week makes, this time last week Dale were 19-0 down at home despite all their best efforts against the league leaders. Jim Flitcroft was next on the score sheet he broke through the Eccles defence yet again and placed a grubber kick past the fullback , there was only one winner in the foot race for the line and he touched down just inside the dead ball line 24-0. Half time.
The second half started as had the game with the Eccles forwards battering at their lighter counterparts but resolute Dale defence stopped them only metres out. Dale got back into the Eccles half with a good clearance kick from Coldman and again quick ball from the line out saw the visitors pressing hard. Eccles were penalized again for slowing up the play and up stepped Coldman to slot the penalty and make it 27-0.
Gui Desousa had been making his presence felt in the rucks and scrums but a slightly high tackle 10 metres out led to him getting a yellow card and 10 mins cooling off time. Eccles made the most of this and despite losing the line out after their penalty Dale lost the ball going forward scored in the corner the try was converted well 27-7.
Dale were soon back on the attack and the tiring home defence gave away two penalties in quick succession as they struggled to keep the Dale centres in check, Flitcroft switched play well from left to right and after some slick passing Josh Schofield crossed for a well deserved try which was converted 34-7.
Eccles kept on pressing and despite going down to 14 men after a yellow card for a deliberate knock forward they moved the ball wide and tried a chip over the Dale defence only to see the ever dangerous Flitcroft pick up the ball and passing to Serridge move into the Eccles 22 the ball popped out of a tackle play seemed to stop but the referee said play on and Flitcroft obliged by sprinting in for a soft try 39-7.
Eccles threw caution to the wind and mounted a good series of attacks leading to a try on 75 mins 39-12.
In the final minute Dale were back in the Eccles 22 and this time a move down the left wing saw Oli Coldman score to round off a great afternoon 44-12. This was the first win since the 1st of October and showed what Dale are capable of at their best, the whole side had played 80 minutes of class rugby on a sticky pitch and go to Leigh next week full of hope that they can still avoid the drop.