Waterloo 29 Rochdale 26
After last week’s amazing second half performance Dale were out to prove they could compete at the highest level as they took on unbeaten Waterloo at the Memorial Ground. With Chris Hodgkinson and Tom Callaghan would have a tough job on their hands . The opening action of the game saw a penalty [the first of many] given against the visitors on their own 22 but the high kick went straight to full back Josh Schofield who went on a mazy run past half way ending with a poor pass to his winger Simon Moore picked up by Waterloo, a good break by the big 2nd row Jenkins saw them in front of the Rochdale posts but good defence forced them wide the final pass found their winger almost on the touch line where he was tackled by prop Jonny Bradley illegally in the referees eyes and a yellow card was brandished for a no arms tackle. So after just 5 minutes play Dale were down to 14 men.
Waterloo failed in their line out and Dale were able to clear beyond the 22 but the ball was picked up by their centre Bradford who scored in the corner the conversion attempt was poor so 5-0 with 10 minutes gone.
Dale’s defence held tight and despite another three penalties they were back to 15 men when after a scrum on half way a good passing move by Waterloo led to a try in the same corner by the winger Davies conversion missed 10-0 after 25 mins. the pressure continued with hardly an attack by Dale another penalty on their 22 led to a long line out throw from Waterloo saw a try for Jenkins under the posts easily converted 17-0 on the half hour. Many sides would have folded at this point but true form the visitors kept moving forward and a good break by Eddie Shanks got into the home sides 22 only for the final pass to go to ground. At last a penalty to Dale on their own 22 the kick failed to make touch and despite a blatant knock on the Waterloo winger was allowed to gallop through and kick over the Dale defence and only a last minute hack away by Pat Gillan saved a certain try.
One last penalty in front of the posts for offside was missed by the Waterloo No.10 leaving the half time score 17-0 and the penalty count 12-2 in favour of the home side.
Dale started the 2nd half in their usual style throwing everything at Waterloo who now started to concede penalties, a good passage of play by the Dale backs got to the Waterloo line but stubborn defence meant they could not cross the whitewash. Up stepped Eddie Shanks the best Dale player so far and taking a short inside pass from Danny Joesbury went in under the posts converted by Keelan Bradley 17-7. In the next move Dale lost the ball on half way and a good link up move saw the Waterloo full back Ford go in for a try despite a desperate tackle by Schofield on the line. A change of kicker gave the extras and the score moved to 24-7. Coach Danny Colllins brought on Ross Hartley for Tom Hindle and Harry Hayes for Brad Fox. From the kick off an infringement on the home sides 22 saw a scrum to Dale the pack pushed their opponents back some yards and Harry Hayes burst through to score the conversion was just short 24-12. It was all Dale now and a solid break by Jake Castree got to the 10m line but the final pass to Bradley was just short. Another penalty to Dale for offside a long line out ball was well taken by Joesbury who went for a well deserved try. The conversion followed 24-19 all to play for then in the space of a few minutes a great passing move by Dale saw Aidy Gleeson make a pass wide to winger Simon Moore who dropped the ball just short of the line. The response was immediate from Waterloo and from deep in their own half they moved the ball to their centre who scored the conversion attempt grazed the outside of the upright 29-19.
Dale weren’t done yet and with minutes to go they battered their way to the 5 metre zone and caused two more penalties against the tiring home defence held on the line the pack sucked in defenders and the ball went back to full back Schofield coming through to score a great try. The conversion from the left touchline was a difficult one but Bradley coolly stroked it over to leave the final score 29-26 this battle of Waterloo was truly a close run thing. Dale showed a great never say die attitude and both sides received a standing ovation from the large crowd again Rochdale gain admires amongst the home fans. Next week at home to Glossop so no worries there !
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.