Rochdale 22 Morley 16
A minutes silence was held before the game for Rod Schofield who’s grandson Josh led out the Dale side looking for their 5th home win of the season. Their opponents Morley had beaten Dale 18-11 earlier in the season in a tight game so Dale had good reason to look for revenge in this fixture. Dale were missing Chris Hodgkinson but welcomed Declan O’Loughlin into the 2nd row and a welcome return for Hooker Jonny Bradley.
The game had an element of deja vous as Morley pressed early and were rewarded with a try in the corner after a good passing move they failed to convert so 5-0 after just five minutes. Dale were soon on the attack with Stevie Collins distributing the ball to his backs and placing high kicks into the Morley 22. Captain Josh Schofield found himself under a return kick and took the ball in his own half and jinked through the opposition only to be held on the 22. Next in the fray was new boy Josh Gibson who received a nice inside pass from scrum half Danny Joesbury and slid in for the first Dale try the conversion went just wide from the touchline by Collins 5-5. Dale were soon back in the visitors half and following a penalty Dale won a line out on the 22 and following a nice pass from Collins up stepped Captain Schofield to cruise through the Morley defence for a fine individual try converted by Collins 12-5. Dale had some defending to do as the formidable Morley pack battered their way through the centre of the pitch great tackling by Jonny Bradley ,Harry Hill and young Ethan Poole held them at bay.
There was no stopping Josh Schofield as he found his scoring form with second try after another run from deep in his own half ably converted by Collins 19-5. In a fine end to end game Dale turned attack into defence when Jack Green was stopped by a high tackle up stepped Collins to slot the penalty kick 22-5. Not to be outdone Morley returned to the Dale 22 moments later and gain a penalty was given away in front of the posts Frankland the fly half scoring to make it 22-8 at Half Time.
Morley came out all guns blazing and it took solid defence by Jake Castree Harry Hayes and Collins to keep them out in the 60 th minute after another penalty had taken them to the Dale 22 a neat passing move saw the ball reach the winger who scored in the corner 22-13.
Morley proved to be their worst enemy as a series of promising attacking moves led to dropped passes and knock on’s Dale’s defence had a lot to do with this and good deep kicks by Collins kept the visitors back in their own half for a while. With less than 10 minutes to go Morley were awarded a penalty on the Dale 22 and up stepped Frankland to convert 22-16. Brave defending by Dale saw them hold on to the final whistle in what was a pulsating game of rugby one which Rod would have been proud of ! Final Score 22-16 no bonus point but a fine performance to go into the Christmas break with.
David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.