Rochdale RUFC 44 v 19 Tarleton RFC
On a very wet afternoon at Moorgate Ave both sides played some great rugby to warm the hearts of some very damp supporters. Dale were missing four pack regulars and captain Dom Serridge so coach Danny Collins picked himself at wing forward and relied on youth and a couple of old heads to continue the eight match winning run.
Dale made all the early running and found themselves on the Tarleton 5 metre line only for a knock on to give the defending side the scrum, the following box kick from Tarleton fell to Jimmy Flitcroft on the 22 who passed across the pitch, the ball reached Blair Henry who’s neat grubber kick split the visitors defence the pack pounced only to see the ball squirt out of the maul to a perfectly positioned 2nd row Andrew Foster to touch down from a metre out. The try was converted by Ollie Coldman 7-0 with only 5 mins on the clock.
Tarleton responded well, taking the ball from the kick off and forcing Dale to give a penalty away that they chose to run and after a scrum on 5 m they crashed over for a converted try 7-7 . Travis Townsend captaining the side, was nipping through the visitors defence and being backed up by Collins and the ever present Beltus Nonleh, a chip through was cleared to touch on the Tarleton 22. A good line out win by Dale saw the ball move swiftly into the centre where Collins again broke through, with the visitors reeling the referee gave a penalty for slowing the play right in front of the posts Coldman made no mistake 10-7 with only 15 mins gone.
Good Dale pressure from Nonleh and Tom Helliwell supported by Foster and James Duffy it was Duffy’s wide pass to Flitcroft on the left wing that saw the speedy winger cruise in for a fine try converted in style by Coldman despite the awful conditions 17-7. The action was all in the visitors 22 and they must have dreaded the sight of Collins with Nonleh on his shoulder battering their line, after a scrum to Dale on the 10 m line it was the ever present Beltus Nonleh who crashed over for a well deserved try from 5 metres out. The conversion this time went wide so 22-7 after 30 mins breath taking play from Dale.
With their tales up and a 5 point winning bonus almost essential at this stage at the top of the league, Dale, led by Townsend and the young pack won a loose ball after a crushing tackle by Ross Hartley on the Tarleton fly half Woodhouse , Collins grabbed the ball and walked over the defenders from 5 metres out for a well worked try sadly the conversion went wide in the lashing rain so 27-7 as half time approached. Still time for another Rochdale attack this time Duffy tried a grubber kick perfect in the monsoon conditions Henry picked up but was just held up short. Half Time 27-7. Danny Collins rang the changes at the interval taking himself off and introducing Jonny Bradley and Harry Hayes for some fresh legs.
It was the ever present Ross Hartley this time turned attacker stopped on the Tarleton 22, the visitors had the scrum but dropped the ball having reached the Dale 22. Good defence by the home side held the attack on the 10 metre line, a massive Crossfield kick by Tarleton winger was well taken by James Duffy. The visitors were penalized for a heavy tackle from the scrum and a great passing move left to right sees Flitcroft release Blair ‘Bomber’ Henry to slide in for a well deserved try in a great performance by the winger. Conversion from the touch line just short so 32-7. A rare Tarleton attack was well dealt with on the Dale 22, the ball fell to Duffy who passed along the line to Henry and the overlapping Flitcroft who squeezed in at the corner for his 2nd and Rochdale’s 5 th try , no extras 37-7 with 16 mins to play.
Tarleton kept on trying and in the 65th minute scored a good try following a 5 metre scrum and well deserved by the scrum half Ben Walton 37-14. Dale’s lead extended further when after a break from Ben Coulter with the pack supporting well, Nonleh and Josh Grundy playing their parts it was veteran 2nd row Tom Helliwell who rounded off a good performance by crossing the line under a sea of bodies to make it 44-14, after a great kick in the wind and rain by Coldman.
With only minutes left the plucky Tarleton pack again took the game to the Rochdale 22 and following a scrum that crept into the Dale 10 metre area fly half Woodhouse stole in for the final score leaving it 44 -19. A great effort by both sides in appalling conditions Dale needed the 5 point win to push neighbours Bolton who they face away next Saturday in what could be the game of the season. Hard to give a man of the match both Flitcroft and Nonleh excelled in attack and as ever Ross Hartley in defence was awesome.
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.