ROCHDALE 36 MANCHESTER 15
New coach Danny Collins had commented before Saturday’s game on the depth of squad he had found at Rochdale, and with several 1st teamers still on holiday and injured he called on the less experienced players to face a Manchester side now in a league above Dale who had won the corresponding fixture last season comfortably at Grove Park.
On a bright and breezy afternoon Dale started well with a good attack down the right leading to a penalty on the 22. The line out was taken and the pack drove for the line with the ball coming to 2nd row Tom Helliwell who crashed over for the 1st try which was converted to make it 7-0 after 7 minutes play.
Dale had some defending to do as the visitors responded with their heavy pack, being held on the Dale 22 the ball came to Ollie Coldman who cleared to halfway, Chris Hodgkinson won the line out and the ball came through to Matt Buckley at 14 who beat the full back to score, the conversion was wide so 12-0 after 15 mins.
Manchester came back in the game and secured a penalty 20 metres out which their fly half took to leave the score 12-3.
The re-start went straight into touch and from the resulting scrum the visitors worked the ball wide to the left wing with a long pass which the winger took well to score in the corner, the conversion was missed 12-8. Dale responded with a good re-start which saw them camped in the Manchester half but the defence held, and an attempt by James Duffy to kick through was charged down. The Manchester fly half tried another Crossfield kick for his speedy winger but this time he failed to collect.
Dale had the line out on their own 22 and attacked to half way with the pack doing well, Jake Smith and the ever combative Harry Hill giving their opposite numbers a hard time. The young Dale backs were always a threat and when Captain Dom Serridge passed wide to Adam Derbyshire he outpaced the visitors defence to score a great try, the conversion was just wide so 17-8 was the half time score.
Manchester came out for the 2nd half with a new determination and pressured Dale from the start. Camped on the home side’s 5 metre line but, when the high cross kick was tried yet again the ball ended in touch and Dale took the scrum and cleared to half way. Manchester finally broke through on 48 mins to score under the posts to make it 17-15. The next score would be crucial and with Dale clearing from their own 22, the Manchester wing half pulled back Matt Buckley as he attempted to catch a Coldman through kick, and was yellow carded for his trouble.
This lead to a purple patch for the home side with good passing moves leading to another try by the forwards this time Harry Hill taking a short pass from Tom Helliwell to power through and score, the conversion was well taken 24-15 with 20 mins still left. The Manchester defenders were now rocking under a barrage of attacks by Dale. Duffy, Serridge and Coldman all involved in launching the backs in a series of well delivered passes leading to a 5th try in the corner converted 24-15.
Dale received a penalty for Manchester deliberately knocking on, the kick was deep and from the line out a clean take by Hodgkinson saw a short pass break the visitors line on the right corner, an excellent conversion left the score at 31-15.
Dale weren’t finished yet and when Serridge was the victim of a high tackle the referee had no choice but to red card the offender. The next period saw Dale defend well but when Manchester were penalized for holding on the kick went deep into their half the line out ball was taken in by the pack who forced their way over to leave the final score 36-15.
This was a good performance and revenge for last year’s defeat, Dale go to Altrincham next Saturday full of confidence for their first league game of the season.