Burnage 31 – 23 Rochdale RUFC
A sunny day in the Mersey valley playing for the first time on the new 4G pitch Rochdale entered their last game of the season full of confidence after last week’s win against Warrington. Dale started well against the big Burnage pack and despite Schofield and Flitcroft carrying injury’s from last week’s efforts the backs moved the ball well with Dick West calling the plays the home defence were hard pressed to hold them. Burnage were ready to counter attack and only solid defence by Dale held them. After 10 minutes Dale were given a penalty on the 30 metre mark which Oli Coldman converted 3-0. Back on the attack the home side forced a penalty of their own only 10 m out in front of the posts 3-3.
Dale responded from the re-start Gui De Sousa got the ball 10 m out and blasted his way over for a great power try.
The conversion attempt went just wide 8-3.
The giant 2nd row then had another break well supported by Tom Hindle and captain Tom Callaghan stopped initially on the 22 the ball was re-cycled by young scrum half Danny Joesbury supported by West, the ball reached De Sousa and only a high tackle could bring him down 10 metres out up stepped Coldman to take the points 11-3 on the half hour .With Dale now on the rampage another penalty saw Coldman extend the lead to 14-3 and the scoreboard kept ticking as at the other end Burnage were awarded a penalty of their own right in front of the posts 14-6.
With play settling in the midfield Burnage were hanging on desperately and gave away yet another penalty on half way Coldman elected to kick and launched a majestic kick straight over the posts 17-6 37 mins. Gone but scoring was not over as the Home side pressed Dale hard in the final 10 metres leading to inevitable penalty converted dead on half time 17-9.
The 2nd half began with Burnage on the front foot pressing the visitors hard only great tackles from Ross Hartley ,Rob Ward and Rob Wadsworth stopped further scoring, an attempted clearance kick from Coldman was charged down by the Burnage wing forward Harvey Derby who galloped over for an easy try converted 17-16.
Coldman made amends a moment later when he converted yet another penalty 20-16. Dale went back on the offensive and only desperate tackling by the home side saved the day.
After Burnage had knocked on near their 22 line a high tackle on Coldman breaking away from the scrum brought the 1st yellow card of the afternoon not before time. From the resulting kick Dale managed to lose their 1st line out of the day. Despite having only 14 men it was Burnage who scored next after a break down the left wing the ball was moved inside for the center to score this was converted 23-20 to Burnage the first time they had been in front, Dale battled well in the mid-field Tom Callaghan and Rob Ward did heroically then Callaghan was injured but elected to stay on
James Duffy who had been battered all afternoon by the Burnage flankers finally snapped and after a slight contre taunt with the referee was shown a red card, the next attack saw the home side score the crucial try with a good overlapping move using their one man advantage to score in the corner the try was unconverted 28-20.
With 70 mins gone Dale were awarded yet another card less penalty for slowing down the play in front of the posts Coldman stroked over the ball to make it 28-23.
The penalty count was now reaching new heights with Dale having two in quick succession inside the 10 metre line with no cards to the repeat offenders.
The final straw came when Burnage were given a penalty right in front of the posts 10 m out to score and leave the final tally 31-23.
Rochdale have had a fine second half of the season and live to fight again at level 6 next September.
One note, Rochdale RUFC were awarded the Referee’s Society “Whistlers Trophy” for the most hospitable club in the division, and thanks for that goes to The Manchester and District Referee’s Society.