Disappointing defeat at home
DESPITE heavy prematch rain, the pitch at Moorgate Avenue looked in good condition as the home side took on Bolton for the first time in many years.
Dale were without both James Duffy at No. 10 and full back Ollie Coldman – both injured in last week’s opener at Altrincham.
There was the welcome return, however, of Tom Callaghan and Jimmy Flitcroft with fly half Louis Singleton making his Rochdale debut.
Both sides started the game with strong attacks but it was Bolton who drew first blood with a fluid passing move that drew the Dale defence and a final long pass to the unmarked right winger to score. The try was converted, 7-0
A good break by Dale saw them reach the visitors 22 before the referee brought play back to half way for a penalty to the home side!
Despite plenty of possession, Dale failed to penetrate the Bolton defence that had learned some hard lessons having conceded 50 points the previous week at Bowdon.
Dropped ball and poor final passes led to a line out on half way when Bolton were taken down and the resulting penalty kick went wide.
From the re-start Bolton were awarded a scrum in front of the Dale posts on the 22. The ball broke to the right and a crossfield grubber kick again split the Dale defence, allowing the winger to cross for his second try which was converted, 14-0 after 35 minutes played.
Dale needed to score before half time but it was the visitors, looking confident in possession, who ran in a third try with a neat short passing move allowing their centre to go in under the posts to score an easily converted try making it 21-0 after 38 minutes.
Dale were desperate to get on the scoreboard before half time and the pack, who had played well, led the charge taking a line out on the Bolton 10 metre line and driving to the line.
The ball came out of the maul to Ross Hartley who broke the line, a good long range conversion left the half time score 21-7 to the visitors.
Two minutes into the second half the Dale defence was penalised and sent back a further 10 metres by the referee for undisciplined comments. Bolton took full advantage and following a good passing move the ball came in from the winger to centre Bate to score, the conversion was missed, amking it 26-7 after 45 minutes.
Dale battled away but failed to break the visitors defence and when Bolton recovered the ball they seemed to be close to scoring on several occasions. Only stubborn defence by the Dale pack, led by Jake Smith and Harry Hill, kept them out until the 53rd minute.
The Bolton 13, Bate, wrongfooted his opposite number and went in for his second and Bolton’s fifth try in the corner.
The conversion missed, 31-7.
Playing for pride now, Dale were awarded a rare penalty on the Bolton 22 and from the resulting line out kept the ball in and used the pack to drive for the line, pushing over for a well deserved score to make it 12-31 on 60 minutes.
The visitors re-start must rank among the shortest ever seen at Moorgate Avenue, going all of three metres!
Rochdale took the scrum and Jake Smith, who had battled hard all afternoon, broke through was only to be held on the visitors 22 with no back up.
Matt Buckley got clear but his final pass was judged forward.
Both sides were running out of steam but Dale kept pressing with no joy despite clever kicking from Singleton at No.10. The backs could not take advantage to break the visitors defence. The game ended with a 5m scrum for Dale, held up on the line as the referee blew.
A disappointing afternoon for the home supporters, Dale will need to improve next Saturday at Sefton to get their season started. Final score 31-12 to Bolton.
●●Action from Rochdale’s clash against Bolton at Bamford Lane on Saturday