Rochdale victorious ‘over the hill’

In 1st XV Match Reports by Rochdale Rugby

Old Crossleyans 19 Rochdale 38

Rochdale travelled over to Halifax to play their long standing and nearest neighbours in the league. On a bright dry day with good underfoot conditions, considering the volume of recent rain, Rochdale kicked off. This was a canny decision by the home team as the visitors would play with the low sun in their eyes during the 1st half.

Rochdale were immediately playing on the front foot pinning the home team back in their own 22m area. Unfortunately, this came to nothing when Rochdale were penalised 10m out from the home team’s line for holding on in the tackle. The penalty was kicked to near halfway and from the resulting lineout, the home team’s number 8, Peltier, went on a barrelling run through 4 attempted tackles that was only stopped after he had made significant yardage. There followed good breaks by both teams that were stopped when players knocked-on in the tackle. Good yardage was made by Hodgkinson that led to the ball finding its way to Collins, who tried a canny grubber kick that the referee penalised Rochdale for being in front of the kicker – Not the last time that Rochdale would be penalised for this offence. The home team then upped their game and put Rochdale under significant pressure that was only stopped by great defence inside the Rochdale 5m area. But the home team were not to be denied and following a good crossfield move in the 18th minute, the ball found its way to McFarlane who went in between 2 Rochdale defenders to score a good try that Johnson converted (7-0). From the restart, Collins’s kick-off went far and put the home team under pressure that was eased when they kicked to touch. Rochdale won the lineout with the pack rumbling on, but all the clever work was undone when the ball was dropped in contact near the home team’s line. The clearing kick after the home team’s pack had won the scrum was taken by Rochdale but were then penalised for holding on in the tackle. The home team were initially repelled when they ran the ball, but not to be denied further progress, they moved the ball across the backline for their 2nd try to be scored (12-0). The home team were playing the better rugby, and it took a try saving tackle by Collins to prevent another score for the home team. The penalty count was mounting but the referee did not appear to be warning the captains about repeated offences leading to yellow cards being handed out by him. One of the more unusual penalties was when a home team high kick was palmed up by a Rochdale player only to be caught by a team mate coming back from an offside position.

The game then took a dramatic turn in the last 4 minutes of the half. A high kick was dropped by the home team’s left winger and from the resulting scrum, Rochdale won good ball with some smart inter passing that saw Collins go in for Rochdale’s 1st try in the corner that he also excellently converted (12-7). From the kick-off by the home team, Collins launched a long searching kick to the home team’s 22m area where one of their players knocked-on. From the scrum, the ball was worked across to Schofield, who went in between 2 defenders to score Rochdale’s 2nd try in a matter of a few minutes that Collins once again converted (12-14). So half time was reached with Rochdale in a small lead that had seemed improbable only a few minutes before the half time whistle. HT 12-14.

Only 2 minutes into the 2nd half, Rochdale showed that they were not going to let go of the game without the home team upping their game further. A great break through the middle saw Rochdale with a 2 on 1, but unfortunately the ball carrier tripped himself up. The ball was recycled quickly, and Collins went straight through a gap to score his 2nd and Rochdale’s 3rd try under the posts that he also converted (12-21). Then followed 2 quick penalties to the home team for Rochdale being in front of the kicker – At this stage, it seemed to come clear to the Rochdale players that this was something that the referee was hot on and would be penalised if continued. There followed a penalty to the home team that had the Rochdale players and spectators scratching their heads as they thought that the whistle had been blown for a high tackle on a Rochdale player. From the line out following the kick to touch, the home team executed a very clever move. All the tall players went to the rear of the line out, lulling the Rochdale players into thinking that is where the throw would go. But no, the hooker threw straight to one of his props at the front of the line out, who went over unchallenged for the home team’s 3rd try (19-21).

At this stage, Joesbury started to impose himself on his opposing scrum half and stopped or delayed his passing from the base of the scrum. This was to continue for the rest of the game except for 1 penalty for getting round to his opponent too quickly and being offside. This great work led to Rochdale being in control of most of the last quarter of the game. There was 1 isolated exchange of testosterone coming to the fore at the time that Connor had to go off injured. Fortunately, common sense and Rochdale playing the much better rugby come to the fore. In the 69th minute, the home team tasted being caught offside following a crossfield kick leading to a penalty to Rochdale. From the lineout following the kick to touch, a good crossfield move saw the ball find itself to Sunderland (Now playing on the wing), who drew his man and passed to Schofield who went over for his 2nd and Rochdale’s 4th try wide out that was expertly converted by Collins (19-28). The home team’s kick-off not only did not go 10 metres, but they also infringed leading to a further penalty to Rochdale. The kick to touch was followed by a line out smartly won, transferred to the backs, who executed a textbook quick crossfield move that led to Howard going over in the corner for Rochdale’s 5th try that once again was expertly converted by Collins (19-35). In the final minute, the home team kicked straight into touch leading to a lineout inside the home team’s 22m area with the home team then being penalised 10m out in front of the posts. Collins stroked the ball through the posts for the game’s final score (19-38).

Rochdale were under extreme pressure for 25 minutes in the 1st half until their 2 late tries in the half took them into a lead that they never conceded, The 2nd half was mostly controlled by Rochdale and the style of rugby that they play was exemplified by the fact that all 5 tries were scored by the backs. However, the backs will testify to the forwards laying a platform for them to be able to play with ball in hand.
Eyes now turn to next Saturday 13th when Goole are visitors to Moorgate Avenue. Rochdale move up to 3rd in the table and have 6 home and 3 away games to play with 5 of the home games being against the other teams in the top 6. Exciting times to come, methinks!