Dale Fail to Deliver in Papa John’s Cup

In 1st XV Match Reports by Rochdale Rugby

Rochdale 12 Waterloo 23
The end of season club cup sponsored by Pizza company Papa John’s saw Dale take on old rivals Waterloo who are now in North West 2 and finished 2nd in that league as Dale did in North East 2 so a fairly even contest was expected.

Dale still without talisman fly half Stevie Collins but welcoming back Chris Hodgkinson in the 2nd row and giving a start to Ben Kershaw on the wing. Once again the pitch was, considering the amounts of rain we have had in great condition and with a swirling wind giving no advantage to either side. Dale started strongly their young side looking to spread the ball wide and let the flying backs test the big Waterloo defence , Matty Johnston at fly half pumped several high kicks into the Waterloo 22 testing their full back and giving Ollie Coldman and Calum Hill something to chase down. The unpredictable wind caused several efforts by the Dale No. 10 to go directly into touch and when the line out on half way was won by the visitors they nearly went over but for stout defence by Captain Josh Schofield at full back.

Waterloo were going forward again when they were penalized for not releasing in the tackle Dale won the scrum and a great kick over the visitors defence by Johnston saw the ball moved inside by Kershaw and his captain backing up sped in for a fine opening try converted to make it 7-0 with15 mins gone . Waterloo had a large amount of possession but could not get past the stout defending by Andrew Foster and Harry Hayes with Jonny Bradley keeping the pack together Dale kept the visitors at bay until half time.

Waterloo started the 2nd half strongly but were twice held up on the line by determined Dale defending, Danny Joesbury hoisted a huge box kick to clear the danger but the line out was easily won by the visitors who totally dominated that part of the game all afternoon. Caretaker manager Dan O’Connell now decided on some personnel changes off went Chris Hodgkinson and Harry Hayes who had both done sterling work in defence and on came Declan Connor and Pat O’Loughlin. The game now started to turn in Waterloo’s favour as they were awarded a penalty in front of the Dale posts and rather than run it decided to kick the safe 3 points 7-3. Despite several heroic tackles in the muddy bottom corner of the Dale half Waterloo finally went over for an unconverted try making it 7-8 to the visitors. The constant pressure was telling and after a series of penalties in the red zone the referee’s patience ran out and another penalty kick and a yellow card saw Dale 7-11 down and down to 14 men.

Dale kept pushing for a second try and after winning a penalty they managed to fumble the line out throw and from the resulting break Waterloo were able to get a 2nd try which was converted 7-18 with 10 mins. left on the clock. Despite the one man advantage and having most of the ball the visitors were held by Dale until the 75th minute when another good passing move saw Dale outnumbered on the left flank and an unconverted try took the score to 7-23. Never say die Dale bounced back in the final minute when Andrew Foster battled through the Waterloo pack to score a consolation try to make the final score 12-23 in favour of the visitors who’s reward is to play neighbours Birkenhead Park in the 2nd round. The end of a fine season for this young Dale side finishing 2nd in a new league is no mean feat and next season should be even better.

David Rhodes R.R.U.F.C.