Dale made the long journey to a sunny Warwick Road in Carlisle to meet the Cumbrian side on their own ground for the first time since the floods of 2015 which almost destroyed the clubhouse and playing surfaces. Carlisle had a heavy defeat at Vale of Lune last week and Dale enjoyed a rare victory against Manchester. Both sides had need of the points as was evident from the kick off. Carlisle with a big pack play traditional rugby and were soon testing the visitors defence 10 mins gone and the play was all in the Dale half with two scrums awarded on the 5 metre line Dale defended doggedly as usual, but eventually a push over try was awarded to Carlisle and from the conversion they led 7-0.
From the re-start Dale should have been level when a mercurial break from Josh Schofield beat several defenders and the ball went out to Travis Townsend who beat his marker to release Blair Henry on the wing he beat the full back but was tackled and lost the ball on the try line. Dale were still on the attack when they were awarded a penalty kick in front of the posts James Duffy normally very reliable from close range missed the mark another let off for Carlisle.
After 20 mins and series of penalties against Dale led to a scrum on the 10 metre line, and saw the same 8 man rugby tactic succeed for the home side with an unconverted try.12-0
From the kick off the ball was dropped by the Carlisle prop and a great high kick from Duffy fell to Blair Henry on the wing this time he made up for the earlier error by beating his man then slipping the ball inside for Jimmy Flitcroft to score a great try , the conversion was good from Duffy 12-7 with all to play for both sides gave their everything in a battle of defences, a scrum to Dale on the home sides 22 saw the ball go blind to Dom Serridge who darted through the Cumbrian’s defence to score a great individual try. The conversion fell just short leaving the score at 12-12 and Dale in the driving seat as half time approached. Carlisle needed to up the pace and taking advantage of a series of penalties advanced on the Dale line to use their powerful pack to get back in the game before the interval. Dale’s defence as ever was superb and all the home side got for their efforts was to see the Cumbrian referee show a yellow card to Gui Desusa for slowing the play we think ! The minutes kicked by and as the half ran into its 50th minute the ref blew without Carlisle getting over the line 12-12 half time .
Down to 14 men Dale were defending from the outset the home side had been given the hard word and reminded that despite the result they had won the 2nd half the previous week. After 10 mins Dale finally conceded in front of the posts after a series of penalties and scrums to Carlisle saw their 2nd row crash over for a converted try 19-12.
Dale committed the basic error of not being behind the kicker from the re-start spotted by the eagle eyed ref and more ground was lost, solid defence and the occasional break with the Dale backs knocking on the door without getting into the danger areas saw the score remain until the 70 th minute, when after missing an easy kick the Carlisle No. 10 lofted a high kick knocked forward by Dale defenders and a scrum led to another pack based try under the posts 26-12
The final nail for Dale was in the last minute as a hopeful Crossfield boot was taken on the right wing by the Carlisle captain Tom Graham who had inspired his side all afternoon to score the final points 31-12. A harsh score line on Dale who competed well all afternoon but missed two good chances in the 1st half which could have changed the course of the match. Next Saturday we are at home to Altrincham Kersal in a vital game both sides needing maximum points to get away from the relegation zone 2-15 kick off.
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.