Non stop rain and at times a fierce wind dictated the play at Moorgate Ave. It was going to be a day for the forwards and Dale were not at their strongest in that department, two late cry off’s put the replacements into action. Harry Hill and Johnny Bradley started and finished the game and fought hard throughout. The opening 10 minutes produced pressure on both defences but neither could find the final pass. Rochdale were forced onto the back foot and tackled there way out of their own 22 metre line. The referee gave Dale a penalty and Duffy’s excellent kick for touch was rewarded with the first try for Dale. Bradley’s accurate throw in, was caught and quick ball out gave Jimmy Flitcroft his chance and after some good support play he crashed over the whitewash and under the posts. Oli Coldman converted 7-0.
22 minutes gone and Dale had a lineout deep in Waterloo territory , not for the first time the ball was lost. Waterloo had several good passing moves and raced up the pitch with good pace the centre ran in under the posts. The simple conversion put the score at 7-7.
Rochdale came back with their own very good passing move and support play after James Duffy incepted a pass around the halfway line. He raced forward and was caught but he had support from Coldman and Townsend, Duffy took the final pass and went over close in. Colman once again was accurate with the boot and Dale were ahead by 7.
. Waterloo now had the majority of the possession. Dale defence was being battered in true forwards fashion. Helliwell and Hindle tackled ferociously, winger Matt Buckley put in a great tackle out wide to stop a certain try but Waterloo regrouped and forced their way over the line close to the posts. Again another simple conversion and it was game on at 14-14.
Waterloo now with their tails up put together at strong passing move which ended with the winger racing through and into the corner to score a good unconverted try. Rochdale had relaxed their concentration and had paid the price. Coldman had a long range penalty fall short and halftime beckoned at 14-19.
Storm “Brian” had kicked in now and the rain and wind aided no-one. The style was up the jumper rugby and Dale found themselves under prolonged pressure as they fought to level the scores.
The Waterloo forwards kept up the pick and go style and Rochdale had a setback. Tom Hindle was injured, he had tackled hard throughout and was now replaced by Leo Freshou who never takes a back foot step. He partnered Helliwell and they both gave their all.
On 70 minutes Rochdale produced the try of the game. Hard yards had them in the Waterloo 22. Dale’s turn to batter the Waterloo defence, the visitors tighthead was deemed by the referee to have committed one to many offences and was awarded a yellow card. Rochdale took the ball and twice tried to crash over the line. After yet another penalty the ball was worked to winger Blair Henry who dived full length for the corner and overtook the defender as he touched down over the line. Wonderful stuff.
Waterloo then came at the Dale defence again. Rochdale cleared their lines several times. Waterloo had an overlap but failed to touch down. Dale cleared again. The pressure finally told with the last play of the game. An unconverted pushover try by Waterloo gave them the victory.
Resolute and valiant in defence Dale had fought hard and had come away with one point. The injury list took another blow with Tom Hindle’s knee injury which could see him out for several weeks. On the plus side, Blair Henry’s return after a mandatory three week layoff and scoring an excellent try to level the match late on, was a boost to him. Final score 19-26.
By Steve Helliwell