ROCHDALE RUFC 34 v 0 SOUTHPORT RFC
On a sunny calm day at Moorgate Ave Rochdale had to ring the changes with Needham, Hill and Hodgkinson all missing in came Andy Foster and Andy Redfern to bolster the pack with Jed Woolfenden and Jake Smith on the bench.
Southport fielded former Sale and Wigan centre Chris Mayor in a full strength side.
Rochdale started smartly with Captain Dom Serridge making a good break from midfield but the ball went to ground, scrum to Southport. The Dale pack forced the visitors into conceding a penalty on their own 22 but the attempt went just wide.
Dale continued to press with Redfern and Beltus Nonleh both making good yards, a second penalty for a high tackle saw Ollie Coldman slot the kick from 30 yards to make it 3-0 with 10 minutes gone. Another good take at the kick off saw Tom Helliwell make a break backed up by Foster and Nonleh but the final pass went forward. Southport showed a bit of fight going forward but poor passing and a tenacious Dale defence kept them stuck in the midfield. If Dale could have taken more clean ball at the line out the score would have advanced more quickly, but despite getting a series of penalties it was not until the 25th minute that a fine passing move involving James Duffy, Redfern and Serridge, saw Coldman take a nice inside pass and crash over for a fine converted try 10-0.
The game was sliding away from Southport, they had several good attacks but only came near scoring once. Stubborn defence on the 5 metre line by the Dale pack saw the move end in a penalty to the home side and the ball cleared to half way.
As half time approached, Dale again broke out of defence and overlapped the visitors defence with Serridge choosing to give a short pass to Duffy, with the line beckoning he made no mistake, the conversion was missed so 15-0.
Dale had one more chance to extend their lead before half time when they were given another penalty on the 22 but the kick from Duffy fell just short. 15-0 half time.
The 2nd half started badly for Southport as they had a man yellow carded for repeated offences and from the penalty Travis Townsend led a break which saw Dale 5 metres out only to be penalized for a knock on. The scrum was pushed back to the Southport line by the dominant Dale pack, the ball appeared to have gone right through but Serridge robbed the visitors scrum half to sneak over for a try. On an unhappy day for the kickers the conversion went just wide 20-0.
The high re-start was dropped forward and from the scrum Southport had their best attack, Mayor looking dangerous was stopped 5m out but Foster was yellow carded for slowing the play. Dale coach Collins brought on prop Jake Smith and he was soon in the fray, making several good breaks along with Josh Grundy and Nonleh, who was all over the Southport pack ripping the ball and crashing through tackles pinning the visitors back in their half. An injury to a Southport player caused a delay to the play and from the high penalty kick the ball was expertly trapped by winger Blair Henry and passed to Jimmy Flitcroft who raced through to halfway and kicked a high ball back into the Southport 22.
Not to be out done, left winger Mitchell van Zyl took a long Crossfield kick from Duffy and raced for the line only to be tackled just short by his opposite number, Dale were given a scrum and after several warnings and re-sets the referee awarded a penalty try and yellow carded the Southport 2nd row. 27-0 with five minutes to go.
The visitors looked finished now and the re-start kick went straight into touch.
Dale took the scrum and Townsend and Redfern combined to make it to the visitors 10 metre line where Townsend was heavily tackled, a penalty resulted and a huge Crossfield kick from Coldman was collected on the line by Van Zyl to score the final try. The conversion was a massive attempt from Coldman from touch which glided over to leave the final score a convincing 34-0, giving Dale all 5 points and probably the best all round performance to date.
Next week Rochdale travel to Fleetwood for another must win game to secure their 4th place in the league.
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.