Northwich RFC 38 v 26 Rochdale RUFC
On the warmest day of the season Dale faced second place Northwich at their Moss Lane ground, Northwich were looking to secure a play off place and Dale were playing for pride having already been relegated. Both sides were close to full strength but Dale were fielding George Hornby a regular 2nd team player, as expected Northwich started strongly with their big experienced pack punching holes in the Dale defence but the visitors held on until the tenth minute when a neat chip through from the number 10 Nick Baldwin saw the winger get behind Blair Henry and score in the corner the try was converted 7-0.
From the deep kick off Northwich were throwing long passes wide looking for a second score but Henry looking for revenge for the first try intercepted on the Northwich 22 and darted through to score a fine try converted by James Duffy 7-7. Dale defended well with the last line being Ollie Coldman who was having a fine afternoon. Northwich then gave a forward pass and from the scrum Dom Serridge launched a high box kick which was recovered by Baldwin on half way he chipped over the stranded Dale defenders to score under the posts 14-7 on 26 mins.
For the next few minutes it was all Dale as Coldman , Jimmy Flitcroft and Gui Desousa all made breaks. Play stopped for a facial injury to the Northwich wing half and the referee sensibly called on water one of three occasions when because of the heat and the pace of the game on a spongey pitch only recently recovering from flooding he called a time out to let the players recover.
Dale almost made it to half time without conceding but again a missed tackle allowed the No. 10 to release his backs with a high punt which led to a third try in the corner which was unconverted 19-7. As usual Dale bounced back as they followed a deep kick off from Duffy the ball came back from Tom Helliwell and Dom Serridge fed ever eager Coldman to cut through the shocked Northwich defence and score, the kick going just wide and half time saw the score 19-12.
The second half saw Dale going forward but held 10 m out by last ditch defence by the home side, the ball was lost after 10 phases and again a chip through saw the Northwich winger go end to end to score under the posts 26-12.
The next 10 mins was all Dale as try as they might they could not break the home defence with captain Tom Callaghan, Gui deSousa and Dan Hay all being stopped just short. In the last attack the Northwich No. 10 was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on, he was the home sides outstanding player so a glimmer of hope for Dale but after a short break as the referee had to be replaced with a pulled muscle they were back on defence. Northwich took advantage of a lost ball in the tackle and again outpaced the Dale defence for an unconverted try on 60 minutes 31-12. From another deep kick off Dale forced the home defence back into their own 22 they cleared to touch but from a scrappy line out Dale conceded a scrum and the ball was moved well from left to right until a gap was found and big 2nd row Dudley crashed over for the 5th try 38-12 with 10 minutes left.
Dale still had plenty of fight left and Gui deSousa had a good chance to break only stopped 5 metres out, then Jimmy Flitcroft got out a good short pass to Coldman who crashed over and converted 38-19, 72 mins gone. The next effort saw the Dale pack push back the tiring home side and on their 22 they gave away a penalty, Duffy took the kick to the corner and from a strong line out take by Helliwell the ball got across to newcomer George Hornby to find a gap just wide of the posts to give Dale their 4th try and a hard won bonus point. The conversion left the final score 38-26 after a pulsating game in very hot conditions Dale again won plaudits from the home supporters for their never say die attitude and with this type of team spirit on display should soon bounce back to North West One .
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.