Rochdale RUFC 18 v 8 Bowdon RUFC
On a sunny but cold afternoon at Moorgate Avenue, Rochdale fielded a largely unchanged side from the one that cruised past Hoylake last week the only exception being 2nd row Shaun Needham coming in . Bowdon arrived having won all their games so far this season and never having scored less than 25 points home and away.
Dale started on the front foot attacking the visitors and keeping the ball in the Bowdon 22 for the first 15 mins. They came close to crossing the line twice with desperate defence from the league leaders on their own 5 metre line saw both Ben Coulter and Ross Hartley just unable to cross the whitewash.
Bowdon gave away a series of penalties and on two occasions Dale chose not to kick the points but took the scrum as they again pushed the opposing pack round their 22 with seeming ease, Coulter, Jonny Bradley and Harry Hill backed by Tom Helliwell and Chris Hodgkinson in the 2nd row due to the late arrival of Needham were superb. When Bowdon were sent back another 10 yds for comments to the referee Travis Townsend broke from behind the scrum to dart through with Beltus Nonleh on his shoulder to demolish several defenders only to held up on the line. Dale needed points on the board for all their possession and it was Dom Serridge linking with the pack who went over from close quarters the conversion was just short from Ollie Coldman so 5-0.
Dale continued to press and the visitors continued to cross the referee with a string of penalties for offside high tackles and slowing play down, it was ironic that they were next to score with a well taken penalty on the Dale 22. 5-3 with 35 mins gone. This spurred the home side on to bombard the Bowden line with charge after charge with Nonleh , Needham now on for Hodgkinson , Hartley and Jimmy Flitcroft all coming close. Something had to give and with half time approaching another great team move saw the ball come wide and it was Ben Coulter who went across the line to make it 10-3. The game was still very open with Dale rueing the missed chances and Bowdon wondering how to get a break in the Dale defence.
The second half started with the visitors as expected going all out for an early score Dale gave away two penalties an where themselves guilty of querying the referees decisions and being pegged back a further 10 yds but Bowdon failed to capitalise on their chances eventually a penalty to Dale 30 metres out was taken very calmly by Coldman with a fine kick claiming 3 more points 13-3 after 55 mins.
Dale started to dominate play choosing the scrum for several more penalties as they completely overwhelmed the Bowdon pack.
With Needham breaking from the back of a scrum the ball was slipped out to Townsend and a final pass found Mitchell Van Zyl flying down the wing to touch over in the corner the conversion was just wide so 18-3 with 15 minutes to go. Dom Macklin came on for Dom Serridge who had taken a knock and Hodgkinson came back on for Isherwood who had played well at Eight. Dale had some more defending to do as Bowdon tried to get their backs in the game but a series of dropped passes and mistakes were punished by Dale always ready to respond with Townsend and Nonleh making breaks at will.
On 75 minutes the referee finally produced a yellow card, not for the visitors but for Dales possible man of the match Travis Townsend for a high tackle on his six foot opposite number quite an achievement for someone 5 ft. 7. Down to 14 Dale were under pressure but held out until the final minutes when a good passing move saw winger McGrath go over in the corner for a late consolation try, the conversion was missed ending a miserable day for Bowden and a final score of 18-8 to Dale.
Speaking afterwards coach Danny Collins said ‘We dominated in the front five and did not let them play this was our best performance so far ‘.
This win took Dale to 3rd place in the league, no game next week but 10th November sees a 1pm kick off at Moorgate Avenue against Broughton Park in the semi-final of the Lancs. Cup.
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.