The U15s first proper Quarter Final day, and we were to host Wigan. Unfortunately they had lost a number of players and could only field a squad of 10, so we were grateful to Andy, Hari G, James, Finn and Will for volunteering to play for them and allow the game to go ahead.
The game got underway, and with only 3 minutes on the clock, Logan took a nasty knock and headed off to A&E for assessment (fortunately doesn’t seem to be broken). The forwards got the bit between their teeth and created a rolling series of driving rucks and resets. Hit after hit went over the gain line, with Max Evans finally making the final hard yards and crossing the line to register the first points of the game. Adam made no mistake with the conversion 7-0.
Wigan did not intend to be rolled over though, and they launched a sharp counter of their own, flying through the three quarters to score themselves, the conversion falling just short. 7-5. Rochdale regained composure and now started to re-establish dominance through the forwards, this time though linking up nicely with the backs and ultimately allowing Adam to cut back inside from midfield following a powerful forward run from Ben Leaver. Adam converted his own try 14-5.
Once again Wigan rallied. Finn and Will were putting in a great effort on Wigan’s behalf and their powerful league-style runners exploited a gap round the outside to keep the score in touch, their conversion falling just short again and the points ticked on 14-10.
The team held their nerve. Probing runs, great forward penetration from Whitworth, Nolan, Stretch and Whitehead meant that Wigan were obliged to send more of their players into the breakdown. That opened up the space needed, and a beautiful weighted pass from Taylor saw Ben Leaver create a stunning switch pass to Beavan who flew onto the ball at speed and his powerful weaving run saw him cross the line under the posts. Adam again with the conversion. 21-10.
As with all previous scores, Wigan managed to find space from a penalty and in almost the last play of the first half, they once again carried the ball efficiently through their three quarters and scored to close the gap, this time converted to make it 21-17. A nasty injury to a Wigan player saw the first half called to a conclusion.
In the second half, Rochdale hit the ground hard and spotting the space, Beavan again carved the Wigan line in half to extend Dale’s lead. Conversion sorted, 28-17. An unfortunate spat saw Adam sent off, and whilst off the pitch Wigan took full advantage crossing the line twice and converting twice to take the lead for the first time in the game 28-31. Nife was doubly frustrated, and missed the opportunity to score for Dale as a scrap between players meant the ref had to stop the game to talk to the players, just as he made his breaks.
But just as the clock ticked into the red, Dale were awarded a penalty sat on the Wigan 5 metre line. Calm heads prevailed and the sequence of forward carries saw Josh almost held up before managing to twist and present the ball which spread to Hari G who barrelled over to claim a dramatic victory at the death – 35-31 final score. A magnificent effort from all.