A dry and mild day at Moorgate provided optimal conditions for Rochdale to utilise their expansive style of play, overcoming visitors Leigh and securing a 4 point win. The game started fast and it was clear from the first whistle that Rochdale were up for it and looking for a 5 point win. The first 10 minutes were dominated by Rochdale and several chances were created on the outside with good work from wingers Townsend and Flitcroft, unfortunately the final pass just going astray. Eventually Rochdale scored when Oli Coldman converted a penalty.
Almost immediately from the restart, Coldman was involved again making a break up the left wing and offloading for the supporting Dom Macklin to finish in the corner. For the next 15 minutes, Leigh were struggling with their discipline and so much of the game was played in the Leigh half due to penalties. Eventually, after consecutive high tackles, a Leigh player was sent to the sin bin, and the resultant penalty was converted to make it 11-0.
Rochdale continued to apply the pressure and captain Tom Callaghan touched down from a line-out catch and drive with a conversion extending the lead to 18-0. Leigh began to settle in to the game and their powerful pack proved they were not to be underestimated making good ground up the middle of the park. The ever-probing fly half then made an excellent break up the middle followed by a kick to the corner into the path of the right winger. Coldman managed to pick up the pieces but the ball went out for a Leigh line-out 5 metres out. The Leigh pack rumbled over for a crucial try at the stroke of half time. The conversion was missed making the half time score 18-5.
From the re-start, Leigh continued their momentum that they finished the first half with, and after a period of pressure, a pass was sent straight over the heads of Rochdale’s blitz defence to release the winger out wide for an unconverted try in the corner, 18-10.
Rochdale soon replied, working their way back up the field and pushing a scrum over the line to be dotted down by the experienced scrum half, Daz James. Leigh weren’t finished, and with Rochdale seeming not to learn from their previous defensive error, the Leigh fly half continued to send passes over the Rochdale defence putting the wingers in plenty of space. Finally Leigh scored an unconverted try to mark the end of the game. Rochdale 25-15 Leigh. Although the boys will be disappointed not to secure the bonus point, coach Mick Gould will be pleased with the performance, particularly with the attitude of the forwards, who managed to contain the powerful Leigh pack. Rochdale take on St Benedicts next week away at Whitehaven and will be hoping to widen the gap between themselves and the relegation zone.
Match report by Dom Serridge.