Rochdale 15 Birkenhead Park 10
On a dry but cold afternoon, Rochdale welcomed Birkenhead Park to Moorgate Avenue for a game between the 4th and 3rd placed teams in the North 2 West league.
From the Rochdale kick off, they managed to get control of the ball and a strong run by Shanks put the ‘Dale team on the front foot from the start. A knock on by a Park player led to a scrum to Dale, which the big Park pack won against the head. A poor pass by their scrum half led to the fly half, Hall, holding on with a penalty awarded to ‘Dale that came to nothing. In the 4th minute, a good passing move led to a kick through by Schofield that Gillan just failed to touch down beyond the try line. In the 7th minute, a good move by Park ended when a kick through went straight into touch. In the 12th minute, yellow cards were issued to Doolan of Park and Campbell of Rochdale following a fracas behind the referee’s back. In the 15th minute, a great try saving tackle was made by Gillan on the Park winger following a good midfield move by Park. In the 17th minute, Good run by Gillan and a chip through led to Park taking over the try line for a 5m scrum to ‘Dale that came to nothing.
After 24 minutes, a good ‘Dale run through the backs was stopped short of the line. In 26th minutes, a good crossfield move by the ‘Dale backs put Gillan in for the 1st try near the corner (5-0). At this stage, it was ‘Dale that was using their backs more than Park who were playing a more forwards based gameplan. In the 30th minute, a penalty to Park did not make touch – Schofield caught the ball passed to Coldman, looped around to take the return pass an then set off taking on the Park defence before passing onto Gillan who still had much to do but managed to score the 2nd try (10-0). At this point, the game had become very tetchy with too many penalties leading to a stop start game. In 34th minute, a badly directed kick through by Coldman went dead over the try line and led to a scrum to Park on the half way line that became an arm wrestle in the middle when the ball came out. In the 40th and last minute of the 1st half, a good passing move by Park was stopped when their winger dropped the ball with the try line in sight. HT 10-0
In the 44th minute, a good midfield move saw Schofield passing to Gillan and then back to Schofield for a very well worked ‘Dale 3rd try (15-0). In the 48th minute, a Park drive saw ‘Dale offside. They took the scrum option, rolled the scrum forward, ball went out to the backs, centre kicked Crossfield to the right winger, Tyrer, who touched down for the 1st Park try (15-5). In the 52nd minute, a great run by Coldman, then went through the backs’ hands with the final pass falling just in front of Gillan. In the 55th minute, the game became 14 v 14 again when yellow cards were issued to ‘Dale’s Conner and Park’s Hall after another fracas on the floor. In the 61st minute, a good Park move in midfield was only stopped when a scrum penalty was awarded to them. In 67th minute, Shanks provided the comedy move of the afternoon when he kicked straight into touch – The lesson from this is that 2nd row players should not kick the ball ! In 75th minute, a penalty was awarded to Park for ‘Dale not rolling away. This was quickly taken and eventually moved to their left winger, Dooley, who scored Park’s 2nd try (15-10). In the 79th minute, 2 consecutive penalties were awarded to Park, who despite their best efforts at a final score to win or draw the game were kept out by good ‘Dale defence. Shortly afterwards, the referee blew his whistle for a hard fought victory by ‘Dale. FT 15-10
Coldman in an unusual fly half position had a man of the match performance with Schofield, Gillan and Bradley having very good games.
Overall, ‘Dale’s willingness to use their backs more than Park and the magnificent ‘Dale defence saw them earn a deserved victory that takes them within 1 point of their Park opponents with each having 2 games to go. ‘Dale move onto to play 2nd placed Bowdon next week with ‘Dale looking to do the double over their opponents after their victory in the 1st game of the season. Finally, ‘Dale would like to congratulate Hall, the Park fly half, who was playing his 400th game for them – A notable achievement in a very physical sport and in this age of players sometimes changing clubs whilst ‘chasing’ money.