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On a glorious afternoon at Moorgate Avenue, Rochdale entertained Blackburn, the weather and pitch were in great condition to hopefully give the spectators a good game of open flowing rugby.

Injuries, holidays, weddings etc. meant that on paper, Rochdale were fielding a weakened side against a very big and strong Blackburn pack. However, it is fair to say that even the sceptics were pleasantly surprised.

The opening 10 minutes had most of the play between both halves of the half way line, with neither side making much inroads. On 11 minutes that changed, Blackburn moved the ball across the line very quickly, drawing the Rochdale defence across with it, this allowed for a cross field kick to the unmarked Blackburn winger, who went in at the corner, the difficult kick was then converted 0 – 7 to the away side.

Within 5 minutes Rochdale were awarded a penalty for an offside decision and the reliable Coldman converted to make the score 3-7

For the next 10 minutes, the game ebbed and flowed and could have gone either way, but on a Blackburn attack, Rochdale went offside at the ruck, leaving Blackburn a relatively easy kick in front of the posts, however the kicker slipped just before contact and the ball went wide, still 3-7

Rochdale then enjoyed a fair amount of possession and were camped on the Blackburn five-metre line. Rochdale were then awarded three back to back penalties which resulted in a Blackburn player being sin binned for 10 minutes but no penalty try was awarded. Rochdale kicked to the corner but the ensuing ruck, led to a scrum, from which Willets managed to score in the corner. Coldman, missed the difficult conversion 8-7 to Rochdale.

By now well over 45 minutes had been played and the referee was playing time added on for stoppages. Blackburn kicked into touch and from the lineout caught the ball at the back and drove into the corner to score. The kick was missed 8-12 to Blackburn HALF TIME

Rochdale began the second half and pressed forward into Blackburn territory, several penalties were awarded to Rochdale, but they opted to kick into the corners rather than go for the posts. On 60 minutes Rob Ward was injured and replaced by club captain Tommy Callaghan. Blackburn gained possession just outside the Rochdale 22metre line and began a rolling maul. Blackburn’s pack was gaining momentum but 5 metres from the Rochdale line the maul was stopped and to Rochdale’s disbelief the referee deemed that the maul had been stopped illegally and awarded a penalty try to Blackburn, this was the turning point in the game 8 – 19 to Blackburn

Rochdale dug deep and went at the Blackburn line and following a flowing move Rochdale thought they had scored, unfortunately the referee disallowed the try for what he interpreted as a double movement, the Rochdale spectators on the balcony clearly could see that it wasn’t, but it did not matter the try was not given

Time was running out but Rochdale still attacked and in fairness, Bradley scored in the corner to give Rochdale a bonus point, the kick was missed, final score 13-19 to Blackburn.

From this display the Rochdale management and spectators can take heart. The Rochdale team did the club proud and all the debutants performed admirably. Next week newly promoted Manchester away.


Match Report by P Hargreaves