In their first meeting since 2004 Dale travelled to a sunny Hoylake hoping for another maximum points performance.
With new boy Beltus Nonleh out with concussion and Shaun Needham unavailable coach Danny Collins had to ring the changes in the pack bringing in Harry Hill to join Jonny Bradley and Ben Coulter in the front row and Gui deSousa in the second.
Dale started well and a break by Tom Helliwell was held on the 5 metre line, the ball cleared to half way by Hoylake. Ross Hartley was then penalised for an illegal tackle by the fussy referee and Dale were back in their own half for the first time. Dale defended well and were surprised to see the play allowed to continue despite a head injury to Helliwell, being treated by the physio in the middle of the play, Dale held the home side on their 22 and after a good break by Mitchell van Zyl a great pass found Jimmy Flitcroft flying down the wing to totally outpace the Hoylake defence and score another memorable try, the kick going just wide 5-0 after 15 mins.
After a good high re-start Hoylake were penalized for holding on, Dale won the scrum and a break from the back by scrum half Travis Townsend skipped through the defenders with a series of passes to his backs Townsend took a neat inside pass from Van Zyl to score a great try under the posts converted by Ollie Coldman 12-0. The home side bounced back with a good attacking move that left them on the Dale 22, and after a series of unsuccessful runs Dale were penalised in front of their posts to give their fly half Sharp a straight forward kick to make it 12-3 after 20 mins.
The action moved to the other end of the pitch in what was turning out to be a fine game, Dale pressing hard but falling foul of the referee on numerous occasions. Hoylake were awarded a scrum on their 22 but in the first of four scrums Bradley struck first to win against the head and give Dale the ball just inside the home 22, a good drive by Tom Helliwell who was having a great game despite having time on the touchline with a head wound saw Dale held on the Hoylake 5 metre line the ref gave a penalty for pulling the maul down and Coldman made no mistake 15-3. The game settled into a series of attacks and counters punctuated by penalties for both sides Dale had more chances through Flitcroft and Jack Green but half time came at 15-3 to the visitors.
The second half had just started when Townsend again broke through and seemed to have scored but was a judged to have knocked on . The scrum was well contested and after a re- set Dale took the ball again with a great push and prop Ben Coulter crashed over , Coldman converted 22-3 after 45 mins. From the re-start Hoylake almost scored but a try saving tackle by winger Matt Buckley saw the ball go loose and despite lots of effort the home side were out tackled, and saw their pack pushed all over the pitch by and increasingly confident Dale eight.
After another penalty to the visitors took the play to half way Hoylake tried to pass their way out only to see Ollie Coldman snatch an interception 30 metres out and win the race for the line to score a great solo try which he calmly converted to make it 29-3. Dale made some changes with Coulter and Helliwell coming off Jake Smith and Andrew Foster coming on for the last 20 mins. Hoylake playing for pride came back into the game and finally after a penalty took them to the Dale 22 their fly half Sharp got a well deserved try and an easy conversion to make it 29-10.
Despite good breaks from Flitcroft and Van Zyl, backed up by the ever present Townsend Dale failed to add to the points so it finished 29-10 a really good 5 point win with some great individual performances and especially the pack who dominated from the start. Next week is the big one as Dale welcome unbeaten league leaders Bowden to Moorgate a 3pm kick off promises to be a great game.
David Rhodes R.R.U.F..C