Not a game purist’s would wish to attend. Could be summed up as, a little bit of rain, penalty kicked 0-3, the end.
Rochdale failed to penetrate the Winnington Park defence the whole game. Sure, Dale played 75% of the game in the ‘Park half of the pitch and the ‘Park defence stood resolute, but they were ably assisted by wrong options, missed passes and poor handling and not keeping the ball. Sean Needham managed to break the line twice but he was soon overhauled and support was found wanting.
Rochdale spurned a penalty kick at goal on 15 minutes and opted for the kick to touch, the resulting linout was lost and was cleared by the ‘Park backs. how Dale rued that decision. Rochdale pressured the Winnington half for long periods but didn’t have that extra guile to score. Unfortunately the match official did not help any side in attacking play with only rare advantage being played and discouraging decisions when rugby threatened to break out.
Winnington Park came to Moorgate and stuck to their plan. They were not overly ambitious and defended well. They were unbeaten in a season and a half of rugby until last week, when beaten by inform side Bowdon. They kicked their chances at goal and the telling blow fell on 25 minutes when their penalty went in off the post, the only bit of good luck for either team that day.
Quick ball from the back of the scrum wasn’t available, the forwards toiled but the ‘Park line was often too close and went unpunished at every stage. A penalty for ‘Park, as the Dale scrum half was penalised for feeding the ball at the scrummage brought great derision from the spectators, and was never repeated despite almost every scrum having the same outcome.
Coach Danny Collins looked just as exasperated as decisions took strange turns. When Dale did have the ball and looked to make a break they failed to hold onto the ball and gave silly passes instead of taking the ball to ground, and retaining possession. A lot of effort was expended by both sides but no try’s were even looking likely.
Some brighter points though, was the replacement Jack Green holding his own and Ben Coulter who came on for Dale Slamon in the front row showing he has some potential. The game finished with no injuries even Travis Townsend came off unscathed after dangerous play on him, saw the games only yellow card awarded to the ‘Park centre Johnson. Even the following ten minutes of ‘Park being a man down, Dale still did not look like scoring.
Dale have another tough fixture next week away at Glossop and as Rochdale’s injured players near their return fitness, hopefully to help coach Collins’ endeavour. Dale will be looking to put a winning run together that will enable them to climb the table.
Hard day at the office, the Rochdale players need to “best put it behind them” and concentrate on what is to come.