Best yet sees Dale beat league lead­ers


ROCHDALE reg­is­tered the sur­prise re­sult of the day in Lan­cashire/Cheshire League One by in­flict­ing a first de­feat of the sea­son upon lead­ers Bow­don.

On a sunny but cold af­ter­noon at Moor­gate Av­enue, the home side fielded a largely un­changed side from the one that cruised past Hoy­lake last week, the only ex­cep­tion be­ing the re­turn of sec­ond row Shaun Need­ham.

Bow­don ar­rived hav­ing won all their games so far this sea­son and never hav­ing scored less than 25 points home and away.

Dale started on the front foot, at­tack­ing the visi­tors and keep­ing the ball in the Bow­don 22 for the first 15 min­utes.

They came close to cross­ing the line twice with des­per­ate de­fence from the league lead­ers on their own five me­tre line saw both Ben Coul­ter and Ross Hart­ley just un­able to cross the white­wash.

Bow­don gave away a se­ries of penal­ties and on two oc­ca­sions Dale chose not to kick the points but took the scrum as they again pushed the op­pos­ing pack round their 22 with seem­ing ease.

Coul­ter, Jonny Bradley and Harry Hill, backed by Tom Hel­li­well and Chris Hodgkin­son – in the sec­ond row due to the late ar­rival of Need­ham – were su­perb.

When Bow­don were sent back an­other 10 yards for com­ments to the ref­eree, Travis Townsend broke from be­hind the scrum to dart through with Bel­tus Non­leh on his shoul­der to de­mol­ish sev­eral de­fend­ers only to held up on the line.

Dale needed points on the board for all their pos­ses­sion and it was Dom Ser­ridge, link­ing with the pack, who went over from close quar­ters.

The con­ver­sion was just short from Ollie Cold­man, so Rochdale led 5-0.

Dale con­tin­ued to press and the visi­tors con­tin­ued to cross the ref­eree with a string of penal­ties for off­side high tack­les and slow­ing play down.

It was ironic that they were next to score with a well taken penalty on the Dale 22, 5-3 with 35 min­utes gone.

This spurred the home side on to bom­bard the Bow­don line with charge af­ter charge with Non­leh, Need­ham – now on for Hodgkin­son – Hart­ley and Jimmy Fl­itcroft all com­ing close.

Some­thing had to give and with half time ap­proach­ing an­other great team move saw the ball moved wide and it was Ben Coul­ter who went across the line to make it 10-3.

The game was still very open with Dale rue­ing the missed chances and Bow­don won­der­ing how to get a break in the Dale de­fence.

The sec­ond half started with the visi­tors, as ex­pected, go­ing all out for an early score.

Dale gave away two penal­ties and were them­selves guilty of query­ing the ref­eree’s de­ci­sions and be­ing pegged back a fur­ther 10 yards.

But Bow­don failed to cap­i­talise on their chances.

Even­tu­ally, a penalty to Dale 30 me­tres out was taken very calmly by Cold­man with a fine kick, claim­ing three more points – 13-3 af­ter 55 min­utes.

Dale started to dom­i­nate play, choos­ing the scrum for sev­eral more penal­ties as they com­pletely over­whelmed the Bow­don pack.

With Need­ham break­ing from the back of a scrum the ball was slipped out to Townsend and a fi­nal pass found Mitchell Van Zyl fly­ing down the wing to touch over in the cor­ner the con­ver­sion was just wide, so 18-3 with 15 min­utes to go.

Dom Mack­lin came on for Dom Ser­ridge who had taken a knock and Hodgkin­son came back on for Ish­er­wood who had played well in the sec­ond row.

Dale had some more de­fend­ing to do as Bow­don tried to get their backs in the game.

But a se­ries of dropped passes and mis­takes were pun­ished by Dale, al­ways ready to re­spond with Townsend and Non­leh mak­ing breaks at will.

On 75 min­utes the ref­eree fi­nally pro­duced a yel­low card, not for the visi­tors but for Dale’s pos­si­ble man of the match, Townsend, for a high tackle on his six foot op­po­site num­ber – quite an achieve­ment for some­one 5ft 7!

Down to 14, Dale were un­der pressure but held out un­til the fi­nal min­utes when a good pass­ing move saw winger Mc Grath go over in the cor­ner for a late con­so­la­tion try.

The con­ver­sion was missed, end­ing a mis­er­able day for Bow­don and a fi­nal score of 18-8 to Rochdale.

Speak­ing af­ter­wards coach Danny Collins said: “We dom­i­nated in the front five and did not let them play – this was our best per­for­mance so far .”

This win took Dale to third place in the league. There is no game next week but the 10th Novem­ber sees a 1pm kick off at Moor­gate Av­enue against Broughton Park in the semi-fi­nal of the Lan­cashire Cup.

Tim Tay­lor

●●Ac­tion from Rochdale’s vic­tory against league lead­ers Bow­don at Moor­gate Av­enue on Satur­day

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