LEIGH RUFC 10 v 11 ROCHDALE RUFC
On a bright sunny day at Round Ash Park Dale were looking to extend their unbeaten run to six games. They started without Ollie Coldman and prop Harry Hill but welcomed back Travis Townsend and newcomer Josh Grundy with James Duffy back from injury on the bench.
The early exchanges showed that Leigh smarting after a heavy defeat at Bowdon last week were no pushovers their big pack looked dangerous going forward and their backs good in possession.
TravisTownsend took a high kick well and made good ground before being stopped on halfway, the ball was lost and Leigh were on the attack but they kicked deep, the ball falling to Jimmy Flitcroft at full back who glided through the home defence his high kick through was well collected and attack turned to defence. This was going to be a tough day and so it turned out. Dale despite having all the possession lost the ball several times through poor passing and bad choices.
Going forward Leigh defended gamely and despite Beltus Nonleh, new prop Josh Grundy and Shaun Needham battering at the line the game remained scoreless. It was the home side who drew first blood with a quick counter attack from a lost line out on half way a good passing move saw the winger go in in the corner for an unconverted try after 20 mins. 5-0. Dale had a good chance to bounce back with a penalty on 30 metres but stand in kicker Matt Buckley just failed to find the mark.
They kept pressing and again it was Needham supported by Chris Hodgkinson and Nonleh who were stopped on the line this time another penalty in front of the posts proved no bother for Buckley who slotted to make it 5-3 on the half hour. Leigh had the next good chance straight from the kick off they won a dropped ball and made for the line they were held by some heroic defence by the Dale backs but the referee saw an infringement and awarded a penalty on the 22. The kick looked good but struck the posts Townsend gathered and cleared beyond half way the ref had seen enough and blew for half time 5-3.
The second half started well for Dale, determined to strike early they won a free kick on the Leigh 22 but lost the line out, not for the first time and were soon having to defend. Leigh chose to kick through and the ever present Flitcroft took the ball, advanced to half way then hoisted the ball over the home defence only to see it just run into touch. An offence at the lineout gave Dale the scrum and they pushed almost to the line but again a dropped pass saw the Leigh pack pounce and run the ball forward the ball was again lost and it was Dale on the break to the Leigh 22 were a penalty scrum to Dale saw Hodgkinson peel from the back and charge through the home defenders to score a great try the conversion from Buckley just drifted wide but the visitors were in front for the first time 5-8.
Dale were banging on the door now and Nonleh, Needham and Ben Coulter all had good breaks causing Leigh to give away several penalties. Leigh weren’t finished yet and another lost line out and a dropped pass by Dale saw them break down the right wing and score a good try again unconverted 10-8 with 10 minutes to go. Dale coach Danny Collins rang the changes bringing on prop Dale Slamon and Harry Hayes with James Duffy joining them a few minutes later for Matt Buckley.