Anselmians 43 Rochdale 21
Rochdale made their first visit to the new Eastham Pavillion to take on top of the table Anselmians to see who would hold on to their 100% record. Dale were missing Brad Fox but welcomed back pack leader Tom Callaghan and flanker Ross Hartley.
The Dale backs were fast out of the traps and a nice passing move saw Pat Gillan go in on the overlap to score with only 4 minutes on the clock Ollie Coldman converted 7-0. This clearly upset the hosts as they made a series of good breaks and caused the referee to award three penalties in quick succession the final one being a scrum on the Dale 5 metre line which they pushed over to score and convert 7-7.
The home defence had no answer to the Dale backs and a great run from Josh Schofield ended just short with a knock on. Following another penalty Anselmians produced a good overlapping move and found their winger in space who scored in the corner 12-7 after 25 minutes. Dale were holding their own as half time approached then a serious injury to Jake Castree who was having a good game at lose forward halted play saw Eddie Shanks come on.
Dale pressed well and a break by Callaghan got to half way then a series of bizarre penalties mostly against Dale broke up play a deep kick by Anselmians fly half Morley reached Josh Schofield who jinked his way through to the 5 metre line.
Yet another penalty for offside allowed the home side to escape to half way from the line out they moved the ball well to the Dale 22 where a hand was seen by the ref to have deliberately knocked forward penalty kick in front of the posts with half time looming the kicker who had missed all but one attempts the previous week at Keswick stepped up to score 15-7. Dale pressed on with Ross Hartley being tackled on the home sides 22 and penalized for holding on.
There were two more penalties before half time leaving the count 12-2 to Anselmians. 15-7.HT.
The score at half time was acceptable but the first 5 minutes of the 2nd half saw the home side score twice following penalty scrums Anselmians used their strong pack to drive to the line and score 22-7 and minutes later with the ball going wide to the winger who scored in the corner a good conversion followed 29-7.
Most teams would have collapsed from here but the hosts found Dale not prepared to concede yet and from two good attacks and a rare penalty, Coldman produced a high kick and a mix up in the home defence saw captain Dom Serridge find a gap to go in near the posts Coldman converted 29-14 and the game was back on until within minutes and following Good forward runs by Dale the ref awarded yellow cards first Coldman and later to Ross Hartley two of Dale’s most influential players. This changed the game and down to 13 men Dale struggled to hold the hosts rampant attacks following a line out on the Dale 22 the ball moved to the forwards and a gap appeared under the posts 36-14.
Minutes later a high Crossfield kick found the Anselmians winger unmarked and he sprinted in to score a converted try 43-14.
Dale came back to full strength for a few minutes then following a rumpus in a scrum the ref decided that both the home 2nd row and Chris Hodgkinson who had tried to separate the brawlers both deserved a yellow card.
Dale had the final score after Anselmians failed to clear from a penalty on their line and the Dale forwards got some kind of revenge when substitute prop Ben Coulter crashed over Coldman completed the scoring at 43-21. Though well beaten Dale as usual fought all the way in a good game somewhat spoiled by the penalty count the return fixture should be a cracker. Next week is a home game against St.Benedicts and a chance for Dale to get back to winning ways.
David Rhodes. R.R.U.F.C.