On course to top table

In 1st XV Match Reports by Rochdale Rugby

Coach Danny Collins again rang the changes with Tom Hindle starting as hooker and Harry Hill plus Dale Slamon in the front row and Tom Helliwell and Sean Needham in the 2nd young Andy Donoghue at No.8. Spud Green took over at out half with James Duffy at scrum half, kicking duties went to Nick Ahearn.

The pitch at Tarleton was heavy and with the usual breeze blowing across it would prove a test for both sides. Despite losing their first four games of the season Tarleton started well and used the wind to launch a high kick into the Dale 22, after winning the ball at the line out a good passing move saw the right winger go in for an early try 5-0. Dale sparked into life with good breaks from Andy Donoghue and Sean Needham penetrating into the Tarleton 22, a penalty for offside was given and up stepped Nick Ahearn to collect the points 5-3. Tarleton were soon back in the visitors half with a series of well placed kicks forcing Dale to defend in their own 22, good tackling by Donoghue and Harry Hill held the Tarleton forwards but on 25 minutes the ball went left and the winger sprinted in for a second try again unconverted 10-3.

As Dale broke into the Tarleton 22 yet another offside led to the home side’s wing forward being yellow carded. Two more scrums to Dale after off sides saw them in the 10 metre area and a high looping pass brought in winger Jack Kelly to score in the corner the wind proved too strong for Ahearn’s conversion attempt so 10-8 was the score with 10 minutes to half time. Dale were in charge now and after a well taken line out by Tom Helliwell, Sean Needham broke through to send a pass wide to Ahearn who raced in for third try again his kick was short and the score moved to 10-13. With their noses in front and half time looming the Dale pack took over and after another clean line out take by Needham they took the ball in from 5 metres and it was prop Dale Slamon who touched down to make it 10-18 at half time.

The second half saw Dale resume business with the pack pressing hard Tarleton were forced into another penalty on their 5 metre line, ball held in the scrum and this time hooker Tom Hindle touched down again kick just short so 10-23. As Dale rampaged into the home side’s 22 James Duffy having a great game at scrum half was tackled by an offside player and a second yellow card ensued, Dale elected to take a scrum the ball went wide in a lovely passing move and winger Blair ‘Bomber’ Henry sailed in for a fine try, Ahearn kept his nerve and slotted the conversion 10-30 after 55 mins.

Tarleton never gave up and as they built up a nice attacking move in the Dale 22 the ball went back to the out half who struck a drop goal not exactly what was needed but points on the board ! 13-30. Dale were soon back on the attack and with good carries by Donoghue and Green the ball went wide to Nick Ahearn and the flying Australian was in at the left corner, he converted his own try to make it 13-37. Dale relaxed a bit and the home side took advantage of a lost ball on the Dale 5 metre line the big prop went in under the posts and the conversion was made. 20-37. With the bit between their teeth Tarleton won a scrum on the visitors 22 and Dale Slamon was penalized for bringing down the scrum the referee who had stood no messing by either side showed him a yellow card and Harry Hill came back on to prop.

As Dale defended they made more mistakes and a second yellow card was brandished by the official down to 13 for the last few minutes Dale tried to keep out the resurgent Tarleton attack but after another hard scrum the home team managed a bonus point try the kick was missed so the final score was 25-37 to the visitors. In a thoroughly enjoyable game Dale were stronger in most departments but a gallant 2nd half performance by Tarleton Earned them a bonus point as Dale got the maximum to keep up their challenge on Glossop who remain top of the division. Next week Dale welcome Winnington Park to Moorgate Avenue for a 3pm kick off.

David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.