Rochdale’s ‘International’ match started earlier than scheduled due to the Manxmen ‘s flights being sooner than planned and so with a 12.45 kick off and the pitch in great condition considering the recent weather Dale faced the big Manx side for the first time. It was a lively start with I.O.M. scoring after 5 mins and looking powerful with their scrum half controlling the play the massive pack rolled over some great Dale defence to score a converted try 7-0. But the fast Dale backs gave a good account of themselves with Josh Schofield and Ollie Coldman linking up with Jimmy Flitcroft to press the visitors and it was Coldman who scored and converted their first try on 15 mins to make it 7-5.
. The visitors kept up the pace and Dale were forced to give away a penalty that proved to be in kicking range of he scrum half 10-5 after 20 mins. The next attack saw the Isle of Man put together a nice passing move and despite good tackling from the Dale pack they reached the 5 metre line and then a quick inside pass saw their centre go over to score their second try in the corner the conversion being missed 15-5. Dale were soon back on the attack with Travis Townsend being a thorn in the visitors side with good breaks and link ups with Schofield and Flitcroft only being stopped by dropped passes and desperate Manx defence.
Dale were awarded a penalty on the Manx 22 and from the line out a great passing move saw Rob Wadsworth go over in the corner, Coldman was just wide with the conversion 15-10 with 30 mins gone. Dale soon had another chance when a deep Townsend clearance kick saw the Manx penalised for a high tackle on their 22, quick ball from the line out saw Dale advance to the 10 metre line the referee then brought play back for a previous offence and from the scrum the ball was channelled out to Flitcroft but the visitors were again penalised for offside and Coldman elected to kick for goal from just inside the Manx half a great kick and now with half time looming the score was back to 15-13.
From the re-start a cross field kick from Coldman was taken by Blair Henry on the left wing but he was bundled into touch before he could release Schofield, from the line out the visitors put together an impressive passing move which saw their huge 2nd row go over near the posts for a converted try right on half time 22-13. The second half promised much and with Dale still pressing they were awarded another long range penalty and up stepped Coldman to produce a massive kick to take the score to 22-16.
Dale had to defend now with captain Tom Callaghan and Rob Ward both blocking the Manx pack and it was Townsend again who produced a clever kick through to the visitors 22 to relieve some of the pressure, again the Manx were penalized for not releasing. From the line out the ball came across to Flitcroft who beat two men and passed inside for Schofield to score the kick from Coldman fell just short 22-21. The Manxmen upped their play up a gear and showed why they are proving to be such a formidable side, their inside centre broke through a Dale tackle to score just by the posts an easy conversion for the prolific scrum half 29-21.
The last 10 mins was end to end stuff with the usual Dale never say die attitude pressing the visitors and trading kicks and attacks but eventually a big gap appeared on the left side and a three man overlap saw the visitors run in their 5th try and seal the victory 36-21.
Dale did well not to fold as many sides have to Isle of Man and kept attacking to the end Townsend and Coldman were outstanding and on another day would have been too much for most sides to handle. We all look forward to the trip to Douglas in April for the return fixture. Next week Dale travel to Warrington. Dave Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.