Rochdale prevail in a sandy bog

In 1st XV Match Reports by Rochdale Rugby

Dronfield 13 Rochdale 19

Rochdale travelled to North Derbyshire for their first ever visit to their opponents. Upon arrival and looking at the pitch, it was plain to see that the game could not go ahead in its present condition that resembled a paddy field. Following sterling work by both teams’ players, coaches and volunteers in forking the pitch and applying what seems to be large amounts of sand, the only thing missing from it resembling Blackpool Beach were the donkeys!

Following a good kick off by Dronfield, Rochdale were able to relieve the pressure when a penalty was awarded to them for a high tackle. Rochdale were playing up a noticeable slope. After 3 minutes, a knock on by Rochdale in midfield led to a scrum to Dronfield with the ball being passed back to the fly half whose kick through went dead over the try line and Rochdale were able to win the resulting scrum on halfway. After 6 minutes, Dronfield knocked on but were able to take the scrum against the head but once again they knocked on and Collins was able to find touch with his kick following a successful scrum to Rochdale. At this stage, Rochdale had been unable to get out of their own half. After 10 minutes of pressure, it was no surprise when Dronfield got a turnover and worked the ball through hands to the right hand side where a try was scored (5-0).

After 13 minutes, following a penalty awarded to them, Rochdale put together their best passing move to date that was onlky stopped when Howard was forced into touch. Further pressure by Rochdale, now seeing more of the ball, saw another good passing move that was stopped when another knock on occurred and a scrum going to Dronfield. The underfoot conditions and wet ball saw most of the action for the next 15 minutes staying in or near the forwards on both teams. Consecutive penalties to Dronfield saw the referee call the Rochdale captain Schofield over and issue a warning that the next transgression would see a Yellow Card issued and 10 minutes in the sin bin. After 37 minutes, the simmering undercurrent spilled over and following a fracas, the referee issued Yellow Cards to Marples of Dronfield and Hill of Rochdale. Suddenly towards the end of the 1st half , both teams scored tries. Firstly, Howard intercepted a pass in the Dronfirld backline and ran from his own half to score a try that Collins converted (5-7). Very shortly afterwards, Dronfield executed a good passing move to score a try in the left-hand corner (10-7). Half time was then reached with the same score. The 2nd half opened with Rochdale playing down the slope and Collins was able to put a good kick into touch towards the Dronfield 22.

Rochdale stole the ball at the line out, but the ball was then knocked on to allow Dronfield to win the scrum and pit a long relieving kick up into the Rochdale half. After 51 minutes, Collins put a great kick behind the Dronfield backline, the ball stopped just short of the try line and Howard made up tremendous ground to tackle the Dronfield full back into touch near his own try line. Following the line out, the ball found its way to Collins, who executed an outrageous dummy to go over for Rochdale’s 2nd try (10-12). After 69 minutes, Bradley was confused by the speed of the Dronfield passing move and executed a perfect tackle on a Dronfield player. Unfortunately, the player did not have the ball and there was great surprise not least by Brad;ey himself that following a talking to by the referee, he did not receive a card of either colour. Shortly afterwards, Joesbury put in a great retrieving kick to relieve the Dronfield pressure.

After 74 minutes, following another fracas between the players, Yellow Cards were issued to Green of Rochdale and a Dronfield player. After 77 minutes, following 2 consecutive penalties to Rochdale, Hayes was able to go over for Rochdale’s 3rd try that Collins converted (10-19). But the scoring was not over. With last play being played, Dronfield were awarded a penalty about 30 metres out to the left of the posts. The Dronfield kicker put the ball straight through the posts at which point the referee blew for full time with Rochdale getting 4 points and Dronfield a losing bonus point.

The game was very attritional played on a pitch not conducive to the good running rugby Rochdale are known for. However, it was a good learning curve for the younger members of the team. Eyes now turn to the final league game of the season at home to Malton & Norton on 6th April. Rochdale are now guaranteed to finish second in the league, although a large win for Rochdale and an uncharacteristic large loss for Selby in the last games would see Rochdale top the league.