Rochdale 29 Altrincham and Kersal 14
On a perfect Moorgate Avenue pitch on a dry if chilly day Dale prepared to take the double over visitors Altrincham/Kersal having won in the final minutes earlier in the season. Always a tough opponent Altrincham brought a strong side determined to give Dale a tough afternoon. Dale were without Harry Hayes and had Jonny Bradley replacing Kyle Parry at hooker. The visitors had a penalty which took them to half way but the line out ball was deemed not straight by the referee scrum to Dale a great push and the ball was fed out by scrum half Danny Joesbury the ball went through the backs from one wing to the other the final pass found Si Moore steaming through from the left wing to crash over in the corner leaving a difficult conversion for Matt Jonhston from the touchline which completed clinically 7-0 with 10 minutes gone. Altrincham came back into the game with good passing moves led by their player coach but great tackling by Ross Hartley and Jonny Bradley snuffed out any chances, several penalties broke up play but Dale always seemed to have the edge going forward with Ollie Coldman and Richard West both making good breaks backed up by Bateman and Campbell. In the 20th minute a fine cross field move started by Joesbury saw Coldman pass out to Josh Schofield who flicked a nice pass to winger Pat Gillan who was unstoppable powering in on the right wing a second difficult conversion by Jonhston saw the score go to 14-0.
Altrincham kept coming forward and a penalty saw them on the Dale 22 the ball went wide to their fast winger who was taken out by Ross Hartley with a crunching tackle heard round the ground happily he recovered but another casualty was Richard West who appeared to have pulled a muscle and had to be replaced by Brad Fox. Dale cleared to half way only to see the ball returned with interest and taken on the line by Si Moore who had a good run checked on the visitors 22. Minutes later a clash of heads led to Jake Castree having to go off for treatment to be replaced at No.8 by Tom Hindle making a welcome return to the side, both teams played open rugby and only a tremendous tackle by full back Josh Schofield stopped the Altrincham winger going in at the corner Dale’s defence once again brilliant. Half Time 14-0.
The second half started with a re-juvinated Altrincham side pressing the Dale defence and getting a 5 metre scrum, coach Danny Collins brought on Chris Hodgkinson and returning Jake Castree who’s first half injury was not deemed head related, the pack had been solid all the game and pushed the visitors scrum back some yards however the re-cycled ball got to the left winger who finally crossed over the line and with the try converted the score was an interesting 14-7 game on !
Dale needed to up the pressure and Si Moore was the man to break the visitors defence from half way he burst through the defenders and passed inside to Schofield who fed Fly Half Johnston to score a neat try under the posts which he converted with ease 21-7. With Dale pressing from the re-start, a line out saw the Altrincham winger yellow carded for an infringement a deliberate knock on, another scrum for Dale and a great push saw the ball taken from the back of the pack by Jake Castree to score a well deserved try the kick went just wide 26-7. A lose pass in midfield by Dale had Altrincham’s fly half hacking through for his centre to chase Josh Schofield made a seemingly good tackle in front of his own posts only for the referee to penalize him for handling off his feet and award a penalty try and give Josh a yellow card for his troubles 26-14.
Dale went all out for another try with both sides down to 14 men the power of the Dale scrum saw them win two penalties in the 22 and in front of the posts the first they somewhat surprisingly elected to scrum again but no ground was made but minutes later another penalty amid cries of take the points saw Johnston step up and complete a good afternoons work by converting to make the final score 29-14.
Another impressive maximum points win against good opponents Moore and Johnston the pick of and all round team performance. Next week its away to league leaders Anselmians the coach will leave at 11.15 a.m.
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.