West Park St.Helens 15 31 Rochdale RUFC .
Rochdale’s see-saw season continued at West Park on Saturday. A full strength Dale side took on fellow strugglers St Helens in a must win game 5 points were all Dale needed from the game and from the off they made it clear to the home side they were in for a testing afternoon, the pitch was in good condition and a slight cross wind made kicking tricky for both sides.
In the early exchanges it was clear that West Park wanted to kick the ball clear whilst Dale took the ball in hand and ran at their opponents. Fullback Oli Coldman and out half James Duffy showing the way with good breaks one of which caused the home defence to concede a penalty 25 metres out which Coldman dispatched to give the visitors a 3-0 lead after 10 minutes.
West Park came back strongly using their massive second row forward as a pivot for a good attack the Rochdale backs got involved and a silly penalty came from some afters during a tackle. The West Park No.10 Lee Rosney scored from the 22m. line 3-3. The re-start saw Rochdale in determined mood with a series of good mauls with Tom Hindle and captain Tom Callaghan in the forefront testing the home defence in their own 22. Oli Coldman was at the end of one such attack and was only hauled down 10 metres from the line. West Park had some good moves and only resolute tackling from Rob Ward and Ross Hartley stopped one break on Dale’s 22 but from the resulting scrum, Dan Joesbury set James Duffy up to break through the slowing home defence a good piece of inter passing with Dom Macklin and a dummy run by Josh Schofield left Duffy enough room to sneak in the gap and score a smart try under the posts. Coldman got the extras and the score moved to 10-3 for Dale. With 25 mins gone the home side were on the attack again using the weight of their pack to force Dale back into their own half and despite great tackling from Tom Hindle and James Duffy they won a scrum on the 10 metre line and crashed over to score an unconverted try 8-10 with 10 mins to half time.
Dale won a scrum on the half way line and ever present Coldman was on hand to work a fine passing move with West and Macklin and round off a superb try under the posts which he converted 17-8. 35 mins gone
West Park came back again and only fine tackles from Harry Hill and Tom Callaghan saved the day for the visitors.
The half came to an end with scrum half Joesbury, weaving through the West Park defence supported by West and Flitcroft but no more scoring half time 17-8 to Dale.
The second half saw Dale attacking down the left side with Josh Schofield in great form stretching the already tired West Park defenders only the final pass went astray but Ross Hartley was on hand to clear up, West Park tried to clear with the boot but only succeeded in finding either Coldman or Duffy who replied in kind following up their own kicks to cause mayhem the home defence. Another telling break from Schofield led to good inter passing between him and Dick West who broke through two would be tackles to score a fine try near the posts. Coldman added the conversion to make it 24-8.
The home side were not finished yet and only a fine tackle from replacement Hooker Jonny Bradley saved the day.
From a subsequent penalty James Duffy found touch close to the West Park 5 metre line the throw went beyond Chris Hodgkinson the normal catcher but up popped Ross Hartley to pick up the lose ball and scamper in for a well earned try. Coldman converted from wide on the left touchline to make it 31-8 with 5 mins to go.
West Park to their credit kept attacking and Dale’s defence had to pull out all the stops to hold them at bay, it was from the break down of one of these attacks that the Dale backs tried to run the ball out of their 22 only to see the final pass intercepted by the Park captain Mark Couzens who ran in to score under the posts to make the score 31-15.
This lifted a jaded home side and despite several good chances themselves Dale had to work hard in the last 5 minutes to keep the score at 31-15 and secure that vital bonus point a good performance from all the lads and now with unfinished business at home against Warrington next Saturday Dale look almost safe. Terry Collins and David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.