Gillan has the final say at Birkenhead

In 1st XV Match Reports by Rochdale Rugby

Birkenhead Park 27 v Rochdale 30

Rochdale had a strong side with only Chris Hodgkinson missing from the line up. A blustery afternoon at Park the home side had a great start the opening attack ended in a try but the conversion went wide 5-0. Dale were soon back in the game inside the Birkenhead 22 with Danny Joesbury and Ollie Coldman raiding towards the red zone but a knock on saw the scrum to the home side and a penalty against the Dale front row took the ball back into the visitors half. Coldman soon had another chance when he received the ball on half way and chipped over the Park defence only to see the full back call for a mark. The game was stopped for several minutes after a tackle on Joesbury left the Dale scrum half needing treatment from both physios and later a trip to hospital for a possible broken jaw, Ross Hartley took over at 9 and was soon in the action winning a penalty in front of the posts which Coldman slotted with ease 5-3 with 15 minutes gone.

The big Park forwards took the ball into the Dale half but the visitors gave as good as they got and looked on top until a penalty 30 metres out to Park saw the ball creep over to make the score 8-3. Always moving the ball well in the centre Johnston and Green fed Jake Castree and the ever willing Hartley and with good short passes from Coldman to Tom Hindle the line was in sight and there to crash through was sub. Harry Hayes for a nice try by the posts the conversion attempt by Coldman hit the upright and bounced out so 8-8. Two good chances came Dale’s way with Colman’s.

Cheeky chip through for Pat Gillan racing down the wing was just to be too strong but moments later Dale were awarded a penalty but Colman’s effort went just wide. Birkenhead had a rare attack just before half time and went in by the Dale posts the conversion followed 15-8 at half time.

The second half started with a deep kick off from Coldman which the Park No. 10 attempted to clear but Coldman following up charged down the kick and hacked on twice and pounced on the ball as it crossed the line for a repeat of his score at Altrincham the previous week 15-13. A series of penalties to Dale as they carried the game to Park with Hindle and Casrtee ended with a third which they decided to go for goal Coldman slotted 15-16. Still some defending for Dale but Harry Hill and Kyle Parry with the ever present Hartley held Park on the 10m line until finally a good passing move ended in a try in the corner for the home side.20-16. With their tails up Park won a Dale line out on half way and moved wide again the centre seemed to be held up on the line by Hayes but the referee gave the try which was converted 27-16. So with 10 minutes left Dale needed to find something special and with Josh Schofield taking the ball on his own 22 and chipped over the defence he was unlucky to see the full back catch and clear, minutes later Dale won a scrum on the Park 22 Si Moore made a good break and passed inside to Harry Hayes who jinked through to score his 2nd try of the game well converted by Coldman 27-23 with 5 minutes left.

Dale were on top and with talent like Pat Gillan in the side there was always hope of a late winner and so it proved with a good passing move from Johnston and Green combining a long pass to the wing saw Gillan bounding through the tiring Park defence to score in the corner with a good conversion by Coldman sealing the win 27-30. There was just time for Johnston to collect the re-start and clear it high into touch before the referee blew for full time. A second away win against quality opposition and a full 5 points. Next week it’s a 2-15 kick off at home against Broughton Park best wishes to Danny for a speedy recovery.
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.