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Coach Danny Collins continued with his young front row who did so well two weeks ago at Glossop and what a good decision it was as Rochdale dominated from the start on a blustery afternoon at Moorgate Avenue.  In the 5th minute a good break by Ollie Coldman saw the ball go out to the left wing and with the pack following up it was young Beltus Nonleh who crashed over for the first try, converted by Coldman.7-0.


Shortly after the re-start an interception on half way by Travis Townsend led to a good passing move which stretched the Liverpool defence but the ball was lost on the 5 metre line the visitors moved the ball to half way then lost the ball with a forward pass, Dale failed to take the line out ball but the Liverpool scrum half kicked directly into touch. From the resulting scrum Chris Hodgkinson broke, supported by ever willing Shaun Needham who came close but the ball was lost on the line. Liverpool got to the Dale 22 and won a penalty and pressed well from the line out but resolute defence by the home side kept them out.

Dale won another scrum on half way and it was the young prop Beltus Nonleh who battered his way through the visitor’s defence. Needham followed up and made good ground, passed wide to Anthony Burleigh who rounded the full back to score in the corner the kick going wide in the swirling wind.12-0 after 25 mins. Minutes later and Dale were rampaging down the left wing, Travis Townsend fed Jimmy Flitcroft and the long looping pass saw Jack Green playing at fly half crash in for a third try the extras were added by Coldman despite the wind, making it 19-0 with 10 mins to half time.

Several missed chances but good defence against the Liverpool pack saw Dale go in 19-0 up. The second half started with Dale attacking on all fronts with Needham, Chris Hodgkinson and Tom Helliwell all making good yards and with link up play by Green and Townsend the backs got plenty of ball. The pressure began to tell, and Dale won a scrum on the visitors 5 metre line, Shaun Needham followed up a big push and went over for a well deserved try.

Again Coldman managed the conversion to leave the score 26-0 after 48 mins.

Liverpool looked dead and buried but as so often happens it was they who scored next. Gui deSousa who had come on at half time made a good break on half way the ball came back to Townsend but the kick was too deep and the visitors No 10 took the ball into the Dale half and passed wide to let their speedy winger in for a good try 26-5.


Dale came back strongly with Burleigh beating his opposite number only to be pulled back for an obstruction penalty to Dale. The pack pressed hard and with Green almost over the line the referee again penalised Liverpool on the 5 metre line from the scrum it was Nonleh again who smashed into the visitors pack only to see another penalty, this time to the defence stop his effort.

The game ebbed back and forth with Liverpool still trying to get back in it, deSousa was then yellow carded for blocking and Dale were down to 14. On came stalwart prop Tom Callaghan to steady things and along with Coulter and Hill the Dale pack again took control Beltus Nonleh again proved he is not just a big powerful unit as he broke through 10 metres out and slipped a nice short pass to Helliwell to go over for a classy try 31-5 after 70 mins. Dale were soon at it again as a fine passing move by Townsend and Jim Flitcroft saw the ever willing Coldman follow up and score a well deserved try which he converted to make it 38-5.

Dale had their tails up now and with Liverpool tiring it was Flitcroft who rounded off another good performance with a jinking run through the defence to score a lovely try on 74 mins to make it 43-5.  With the bonus points secured it was understandable that Dale eased off a little but one more chance came when that man Nonleh burst through two tackles to be stopped on 5 metres. Liverpool had a last attack and again moved the ball wide on the left with a nice chip over followed up by the winger for a consolation try leaving the final score 43-10 to Dale a well deserved win.

Only one Man of the Match Beltus Nonleh is one to watch and next weeks long trip to Hoylake should be a good test for Collins’ side.


David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.