Rochdale 12 Altrincham Kersal 7
When the going gets tough the tough get going or so the saying goes and for Dale languishing second to bottom of the league every game is a must win especially against teams you want to overtake. Saturdays game against Altrincham Kersal had all the hallmarks of a dogfight, bad weather, boggy pitch and two sides determined to take the points.
The first 10 minutes were all the visitors trying to utilise their big pack to break through a stubborn Dale defence. Try as they might Altrincham could not get past solid tackles from Ross Hartley Tommy Callaghan and the rest of the side with always the chance of a quick counter attack from Dick West, Jimmy Flitcroft and Josh Schofield all super quick and combining well to take the game to the visitors.
The first solid chance came on the 25th minute when Altrincham were awarded a penalty on the Dale 22 line
Although the kick was in front of the posts the full back managed to place the ball short and wide in the blustery conditions.
Dale came into the game and Chris Hodgkinson took a line out ball and West broke away feeding the winger who tried to pass inside rather than go for the line himself the dropped ball and it was back to defence for Dale. Half time saw the scorers untroubled 0-0.
The second half started with the home side on the attack and after a good passing move the ball came to the ever willing Flitcroft who broke through the cover tackle and went over in the corner Oli Coldman was just wide with the conversion 5-0
Altrincham went on the offensive and despite all Dale’s efforts the visitors No 8 broke the line and scored near the posts to give his kicker an easy chance 7-5 with 60 mins gone.
Dale coach Mick Gould now rang the changes bringing on Jonny Bradley at hooker, Andrew Foster in the second row and Dom Macklin in the centre. Rochdale began to win more line-out ball in the by now awful conditions with driving sleet and rain.
With only minutes to go Dale were awarded a penalty on the Atrincham 22, they took a quick tap and caught the visitors on the back foot, a pass out wide found Josh Schofield who rounded his opposite number and carried on to score behind the posts a great deserved try. Up stepped Coldman to add the extras and see the score move to 12-7.
One last attack by the visitors was thwarted on the Dale 10 metre line with the ball lost and a Dale breakaway saw Coldman kick through and almost get to the line before the full back, but his clearance kick was the last of the match as the referee blew for time to end a hard fought pulsating match. 12-7 win ! Dale battled hard for the points and were rightly clapped off by the home fans. Next Saturday sees another home game against Vale of Lune once again a must win for Rochdale.
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.