Rochdale 37 v 28 Manchester
In a pulsating game at Moorgate Avenue Rochdale took on mid- table Manchester to try and get revenge for two early season maulings in the Cup and League. With a re-modelled pack Dale were hoping to use their backs to get the game flowing and test the visitors defence to the full.
As with most battle plans the reality was different as Manchester came at Dale with a big pack and hard running backs, especially the No. 8 Noar and No 13 Tiatia who broke through the home defence with ease creating chances galore. The replacement Hooker for Dale was Ross Hartley returning from injury but out of his usual position of flanker. Captain Tom Callaghan was missing but the welcome return of 2nd row Tom Helliwell gave strength to the pack and line outs. Dale were defending in their 22 when the referee gave a penalty, the first of many to Manchester, the full back kicked and scored making it 0-3 after just 12 mins.
Right from the re-start the visitors put together a good passing move and despite a great tackle from Travis Townsend they crossed the line for a well converted try 0-10. This looked ominous for Dale and when on 25 mins another penalty was converted by Douglas Day the Manchester 10 the score moved to 0-13. Dale always looking for the wide pass and to get their backs into play saw Townsend as mercurial as ever dash round the back of a Dale scrum on the 22 metre line and pass to Josh Schofield who outpaced his opposite number to score under the posts, James Duffy converted and the score moved to 7-13.
. The visitors were obviously rattled by this score and gave away a series of lost line outs and soft penalties the last of which saw Duffy chance a kick from fully 40 metres out, and score to bring the reckoning to 10-13 on 35 mins. With half time approaching it was the Dale backs with Townsend, Schofield and Jimmy Flitcroft combining to score a great try in the corner the conversion going just wide of the mark.15-13.
There was just time to see the visitors awarded another penalty in front of the posts when Dom Macklin was yellow carded, the kick went over to see Manchester lead 15-16 at half time.
The 2nd half started much as the first with the big Manchester pack battering away at the Dale defence. On the 5 metre line yet another penalty conceded and after a missed tackle out wide Manchester winger went over to make it 15-21 the conversion going wide.
Dale were soon back on the attack with the pack matching their opposite numbers and the ball going wide in a series of passes leaving a two man overlap, a shocking high pass was brilliantly taken high above his head by Townsend who crashed over to score a remarkable try , up stepped Duffy to add the extra two points from the touch line 22-21.
It was all Dale now and the with the Manchester defence tiring it was a tight passing move with Schofield and Hartley combining that bored a hole in the back line and saw Hartley nip through for a cheeky touchdown close to the posts, Duffy converted 29-21. Manchester were desperate now and the referee was forced to produce a 2nd yellow card of the day for a cynical knock on by the visitors 2nd row, Duffy stepped up and slotted a nice kick to make it 32-21.on 50 mins.
The next 10 mins were frantic with both sides going all out, several penalties saw Manchester reach the Dale 22 where Duffy had a clearance kick charged down and from the resulting attack the visitors scrum half went in to score a converted try 32-28. With minutes to go Dale were on the attack again another super passing move which saw Dom Macklin returned after in 10 minute rest pounce on the line with Duffy on the mark again the final score was left at 37-28 to Dale a well deserved win with great performances from Schofield, Townsend and Duffy in the backs as well as all the pack who held and finally dominated the visitors.
Next week we travel to Carlisle to hopefully build on this result. Coach leaves at 10.00am .
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.