Dale Finish With a Victory

In 1st XV Match Reports by Rochdale Rugby

Rochdale 26 Malton and Norton 17

Dale needed a maximum five point win to stay in contention for the league title hoping rivals Selby might slip up in their last game. On a blustery afternoon at Moorgate Avenue the home side fielded an strong side still missing Stevie Collins and with Callum Hill coming in for Declan O’Loughlin. It was clear from the start that Malton had not come here for a last game to make up the numbers and after 5 minutes it was the Yorkshire men who put a nice passing move from the Dale 22 and went in to score the opening points.

On a day when kicking would always be a problem their conversion went wide so 5-0. Dale needed to respond and following a penalty for a high tackle on winger Cliff Howard the home side took the line out and were stopped just short of the line. Continued pressure saw a series of penalties to Dale who led by Fly Half Matty Johnston tested the Malton defence and when Josh Schofield was again tackled on the 10 metre line a pass to Howard saw the young winger glide in for a try in the corner, faced with a difficult conversion Johnston harnessed the wind to bend in a great conversion from 30m 7-5 to Dale.

Minutes later following a mazy run by full back Schofield the visitors defence was opened up and a nice short pass to Spud Green saw the centre through but as he reached the line he was cynically tugged beck by the collar and the referee had no choice but to award a penalty try and yellow card the offender 14-5. Dale were unlucky not to add to their tally when a neat grubber kick from Johnston just ran into touch with Danny Joesbury just failing to touch down, Half time 14-5.

The wind was worse as Dale faced both wind and a Malton pack determined to give them a game, after a line out on half way the ball was chipped over the Dale defence and the sight of 2nd rower Eddie Shanks chasing the ball with the Malton winger overhauling him quickly was rescued by Howard overtaking both of them to put the ball into touch. Despite being penalized for a forward pass Dale won the scrum against the head and Schofield again broke through from deep in his own half and following a series of passes the ball came to Johnston to score a well deserved try which he converted to make the score 21-5. Dale got their bonus try with relentless pressure and good use of the wind they won a line out on the visitors 22 and it was captain Schofield who was on hand to score the vital try rounding off a wonderful season as leader of the young Dale side 26-5.

Malton were not for lying down and a series of charges by their No. 10 Bulmer saw them facing a drop out by Dale the wind almost blew the ball back and they drove over the line to make it 26-10 with minutes to go. The bit was between the teeth for Malton and despite a great try saving tackle by Ethan Poole they managed to retain the ball at a line out on the Dale 10 metre line and force over for a final try which was converted so 26-17 was the final score and a precious 5 points for Dale, a good performance especially fly half Johnston who mastered the wind and gave his side the edge over a gutsy Malton team. Selby won and took the title but this young Dale side will have a lot to say next season.

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