On a cold sunny day at Headlands Road, Rochdale started well against 2nd in the league Stockport who had a one hundred percent record at home this season before this fixture. From the start Josh Schofield was unlucky not to score when the ball went forward in a tackle just short of the ‘Port line. As the home side began to press they were awarded a scrum just 10 metres out but Dale took it against the head only to see the clearance kick charged down and the bobbling ball be knocked on by a Stockport forward who was allowed to go on and score with the Dale defence waiting for the ref to blow……. The ref was unsighted so with a simple mistake it was 7-0 and against the run of play.
It did not take long for the visitors to get back in the game when Travis Townsend broke from scrum half to feed Josh Schofield who powered through the big defenders to score a great try the kick from Ollie Coldman went just wide so 7-5 with 15 mins gone. Stockport looked good going forward using their big pack to win ball and pressure Dale, on 20 mins they passed wide and broke through on the left to score an unconverted try, 12-7. Dale really had some desperate defending to do or else the game would slip away as it had at Wilmslow but despite good tackles by Blair Henry on the wing and Gui de Sousa and Mike Candler in the pack.
The home side eventually found another gap this time scoring their 3rd try under the posts leaving an easy conversion 19-5. Again the response from Dale was good with Townsend darting through the Stockport defence and releasing Dom Serridge who kicked through for the backs to chase the ball eventually going forward from a Stockport hand, then from the subsequent scrum de Sousa broke away and took out several defenders, he flicked the ball out to Jimmy Flitcroft who battered his way through to score wide on the right Coldman converted 19-12, with 32 mins gone.
The second half saw Dale having to defend deep in their own half but on 55 mins it was they who got the next points on the board and a classy try it was; with Flitcroft powering through a couples of weak tackles then laying off to Schofield for him to use all his skill to jink his way to the try line for a memorable score 19-17.
Stockport responded well with big pressure driving and good kicks over the Dale defence by the scrum half Tom Duffy who was on hand to nip in under the posts for an easily converted try 26-17 with 60 mins gone. Rochdale though had not read the script and came back battling to the Stockport 22 with great passing moves from the backs and all the power of De Sousa punching holes in their tiring defence. The referee gave three penalties inside the home sides 5 metre area with no yellow card or penalty try which was strange, eventually the move broke down and a releaving kick saw Stockport back on half way and pressing Dale hard, they were much more capable in attack as the visitors found out on 70 mins as the routine lineout catch and drive proved the answer to the stubborn defence. The big 2nd row James Shaw going over to make it 33-17 after a good conversion. True to form Dale weren’t done yet and with the important 4th try beckoning they got to the 10 metre line and it was Gui de Sousa who had played his heart out who strolled through the Stockport defence line to score well converted by Ollie Coldman with what proved to be the last kick of a very entertaining game 33-24. With a vital bonus try point secured Rochdale came away having impressed many of the home fans with their rugby skills and die hard performance. The next game is on the 25th November when we entertain Vale of Lune the current league leaders in a 2-15 pm kick off at Moorgate Ave.
Dave Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.