Rochdale 25 Aspatria 20
Rochdale stay second in the league after a battling performance in terrible conditions, the referee deemed the first team pitch unplayable due to heavy rain and so the game went to the hill pitch. Aspatria have a name as a tough side and they had not made the three hour journey from Cumbria to roll over against Dale. The game started in a gale with sleet coming down at 45 degree angle. Aspatria scored first using the wind to their advantage and following up well 7-0. Dale conceded a penalty to go 10-0 down after 15 mins. Beltus Nonleh got Dale back in the game with a typical barnstorming try brilliantly converted by James Duffy into a fierce wind 10-7 down but back in the game. Several high tackles came in from the visitors and a yellow card was shown to their No 8, however Dale were again penalized for offside trying to defend against the 14 men and a howling gale, a well taken kick 13-10 with minutes to go to half time and a welcome change round. But under pressure Duffy punted the ball high from his 22 only to see it blow back and be picked up by the Aspatria winger who raced in to score a converted try on the stroke of half time 20-10.
The second half started well for Dale with the wind assisting them the pack led by Sean Needham and Beltus Nonleh laid siege to the visitors line and it was the young prop who went close forcing the defenders to commit yet another cardable high tackle inside the 5 metre area and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try to Dale 20-17. With 5 mins to go it was all Dale and with the Aspatria forwards on a suicide mission of head tackling the ref had no choice to give the recently returned No 8 a second yellow and his marching orders. With 13 men the inevitable pressure led to a penalty that Duffy slotted with ease making it 20-20.
Dale now went all out for the win and in appalling conditions they battered the vistors line until that young man Nonleh popped up again to crash over for his 2nd try the conversion went just wide so 25-20 as the final whistle approached Aspatria had one last attack stopped on the Dale 22 but unfortunately Needham took a bad knock to the knee and had to be carried off the pitch. Try as they might Dale could not force the bonus try. Final score 25-20 in a hard fought match Aspatria earned their loosing bonus and Dale stay 2nd in the League.
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.