On a windy and wet afternoon Rochdale took to the field still smarting from their last minute defeat at the hands of Waterloo last week but confident in the knowledge that they could run a top side close. In recent years Wilmslow have had the best of their home fixtures against Dale; could today be any different?
Dale fielded a full side less unavailable winger Flitcroft, with Josh Schofield returning from injury, and new boys Andy Redfern and Matt Buckley consolidating their places in the team.
With the floodlights on from the beginning Dale started well with the strong gusty wind helping them gain ground. Ollie Coldman lofted a clearance kick that was fumbled into touch for a throw to Dale, and from the maul that followed Gui de Sousa gave Wilmslow a taste of his powerful running, he was eventually hauled down 10 yds short and the ball popped out to allow the home side to clear their lines.
Wilmslow were now on the attack and won a penalty which took them to the Dale 22. From the line out they put together a good passing move to score in the corner, the conversion was missed 5-0 after 12 minutes. It was Dale who continued to have all he attacking moves and battered away at the Wilmslow line, only to have a dropped ball and desperate defence to stop them short .The score stayed the same until five minutes from half time when following a heavy tackle Redfern was forced to leave the field to be replaced by Jonny Bradley. The referee then penalized Dale for offside in front of their posts and Captain Bob Maccullum made no mistake 8-0. From a poor re-start Wilmslow took a scrum on the centre line and broke away through full back Ben Day, who crossed the line leaving an easy conversion 1
Dale were back on the attack through Josh Schofield who intercepted a pass on half way, he beat three defenders only to see his own late pass intercepted and Wilmslow make no mistake scoring wide on the left a very good conversion
The score at half time 22-0 despite Rochdale having most of the ball !
The second half saw the home side with the wind do all the attacking and with Rob Willetts coming off with a shoulder injury to be replaced by his brother, James. Dale had to reorganise their defence, in the space of 15 minutes Wilmslow scored three tries led by rampaging full back Day who ran the game for them and by the 60th minute it was 36-0.
Rochdale kept battling through their mercurial scum half Travis Townsend who even had the home supporters impressed by his quick hands and darting breaks, had the Wilmslow defenders fully occupied. A chip over the Dale defence led to the ball skidding under winger Buckley to allow his opposite number to run in a fifth try of the afternoon 43-0 with still 10 minutes to go. Next to go off was Schofield still feeling his injury but having battled all the game to get Dale on the score sheet. Wilmslow had another try against a tiring Dale defence when a nice overlapping move saw a final cheeky one handed pass beat the defender for a final converted try 50-0. But there was just time for Dale to spoil the home side’s clean sheet when James Duffy was on the end of a nice pass from Townsend to score near the posts and with the conversion leave the final score 50-7.
A difficult afternoon for Dale but hopefully another opportunity with a game against Cumbrian side St Benedict’s at 2-15 next Saturday at Moorgate Avenue.
Dave Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.