ROCHDALE RUFC 31 v 39 BURNAGE RFC
On a wild windy and snowy afternoon Dale welcomed Burnage to Moorgate Avenue hoping to get some revenge on the early season mauling they received in the corresponding fixture. Despite the wind and driving snow both sides were determined to play open rugby and make a good show for the numerous supporters at the club for both Ladies Day and the Six Nations game later. It was 20 mins before the visitors opened the scoring after a deep free kick and line out on the Dale 10 metre line saw their pack squeeze over for an unconverted try.
Dale were soon back on the attack with Tom Helliwell stealing lineout ball on half way and a good flowing move in the backs was only stopped with a dropped final pass 5 metres out. Burnage countered with good breaks and only a superb tackle by Travis Townsend stopped a good passing effort from making more points. Burnage scored again after 30 mins when a strong scrum gave the winger a chance to break into the Dale 10 metre area and pass to the centre, who scored again. The kick went well wide in the ferocious wind 10-0
. Five minutes later it was Dale’s turn to get on the score sheet after Burnage were penalized for a high tackle on their own 22 , Duffy went for the corner and from a clean line out, the ball came inside where the visitors were caught offside, Ollie Coldman took the tap and go and found a gap to crash over then converted 7-10. Dale were then in command when a great kick from James Duffy took the game deep into the Burnage half were Helliwell was again dominant in the line, the pass went down the blind side and up popped Hooker Kyle Parry to squeeze in at the corner flag. Duffy hit the post with the conversion so 12-10 with half time looming.
From the re-start Dale were back on the attack and a superb passing move involving Dom Serridge, Jim Flitcroft and Travis Townsend gave young winger Matt Buckley the chance to outpace the full back and score in the corner, the conversion went wide so the half time score was a promising 17-10 to Dale.
The 2nd half started well with a great break by Flitcroft was just stopped short, Dale re-cycled the ball but 2nd row Gui Desousa had the ball stolen on the Burnage 22, the ball went to Burnage centre Joshua Miller who broke away and ran the length of the field to score. The kick was taken this time in front of the posts 17-17 and the game was really on.
Five minutes later the visitors were in front when Miller got a chance on the Dale 22 and raced in for his 2nd try 17-22.
Dale bounced right back and following another good line out the ball came lose and Coldman collected to break clear of the Burnage defence and score a good individual try Duffy converted well 24-22.
In the worsening conditions the quality of rugby from both sides was a credit to the teams. Burnage had a great chance in front of the posts but the hooker fumbled the ball with only a few metres to go and missed a certain try. Dale broke through with a great grubber kick from Duffy and a chase for the line the ball just going dead.
Burnage won a scrum from a Dale knock on in their own 22 and the pack drove hard for the line the ball was filtered out to the ever present No. 11 Miller for his third try again the kick was well wide 24-27 with 70 minutes gone.
A good break by Serridge caused panic in the Burnage defence, a free kick saw Dale taking the line out on the opposition 22, the ball was won but when it was passed wide to winger Buckley his attempted punt forward went straight into touch. The visitors took full advantage of the scrum on half way and another good passing move saw them get their 5th try of the day this time converted 24-34 with only 5 mins left. Rochdale never say die and it fell to possible man of the match Tom Helliwell to seal a good afternoons work with a well deserved try under the posts which was converted 31-34. Both sides were showing signs of tiredness in the gruelling conditions and with minutes to go a lose pass was picked up by the Burnage backs who worked a nice passing move to the winger who looked to have a foot in touch to squeeze in the corner to leave the final score 31-39.
A great match in awful conditions again Dale were just short of a win but pressed Burnage all the way.
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.