Good conditions, a victory from the previous week and a home game, all boded well for Rochdale, and in the first 25 minutes they could have been out of sight. Wilmslow were made to look ordinary as the Dale went on to spurn chance after chance. Wilmslow started very slowly and with two or three early try’s Rochdale would have had this game wrapped up. The reality there was a dropped ball a poor last pass and a ball knocked forward. Rochdale had not brought their finishing skills to the match.
. After 30 minutes Dom Macklin suffered a concussion injury and was replaced by the ever ready veteran Jon Mair. Wilmslow had survived the early exchanges and were looking to get into the Dale 22. A Rochdale attack was thwarted on the Wilmslow 5 metre line and the speedy Wilmslow left wing ran the full length of the pitch to score under the posts. The first score was on 35 minutes. 0-7.
On 40 minutes James Duffy attempted his second penalty chance but this one went the opposite way to the first attempt and sure enough as Wilmslow crept ever closer to the Rochdale line a score looked on the cards. A secure Wilmslow lineout had them go through the phases with pick and go moves. Just short of the Dale try line they were held up and offered a scrum. Wilmslow managed to turn that into a huge melee and they were awarded a pushover try, duly converted. The halftime whistle went after 52 minutes play. 0-14.
Dale did not need or deserve another try against before halftime and they now had a mountain to climb. Wilmslow confidence had returned and they looked the better side. Mike Candler was replaced at halftime by Ton Helliwell to boost the forward line, Chris Hodgkinson was having a good game and was well supported by Rob Wadsworth. In the first half Rochdale had very little lineout ball but with Hodgkinson and Helliwell in the lineout more ball became available.
30 metres out the ball came loose from a ruck and Helliwell collected, he surged 5 metres and offloaded to James Duffy and onward to Bomber Henry who was taken into touch just short of the line. After 20 minutes another promising Dale move produced good passing and support play but again broke down with poor handling. Wilmslow kept up the pressure, 25 gone and nice crossfield move had Wilmslow over the line again this time out wide on the right, the conversion was missed and at 0-19 the Cheshire men were cruising.
Rochdale were not for lying down and they came strong again with better set pieces, alas some poor tackling let the visitors in again on 30 mins this time on the left, for a bonus point try, again the kick went wide and at 0-24 the visitors scoring for the day was over.
The Rochdale team never gave up and they pressured the visitors line continuously. The Rochdale forwards battered the visitors for the final 10 minutes. The pressure did bring a Rochdale score. A fine move from the Wilmslow 22 with interpassing between Bomber Henry and James Duffy had Henry going over the whitewash, unfortunately Duffy’s day with the boot did not produce any points and the Dale were beaten 5-24.
Danny Murphy replaced Tom Callaghan on the front row and Harry Hill during the second half. Travis Townsend played with gusto and Dom Serridge was the pick of the backs.
More hard work beckons next week as Dale travel to Warrington for the first of two consecutive away games.