Leigh set the standard for under 11s
LEIGH had laid on a quad-fixture featuring Rochdale RUFC’s under 11s and teams from West Park and a combined Crewe/ Nantwich team.
Knowing how strong Leigh were, and not knowing the strengths of the other teams, Rochdale took a strong 13 players along for what they anticipated would be the sternest test they had played this season.
The first game was against Crewe/ Nantwich. From the off Rochdale were hounded back into their own half and conceded an early try.
The team regrouped, and upped the intensity only for half time to arrive fractionally too soon.
The second half was a different matter. The previous intensity was preserved and Crewe found themselves struggling to contain Simpson, Harry Nolan and Jake Johnson who were now starting to punch holes through their line forcing them to regroup. The pressure told, and a superb team try saw Will Brown eventually cross the line with a long reach.
Unfortunately, a Crewe player landed awkwardly on top of him as his back twisted and Will departed having more than made his imprint on the game.
Alex Ogilvie took to the field as a replacement and Rochdale regrouped and retained momentum. The continued pressure told, and although Crewe managed a second try, combinations of Noah Wilde on one wing and Oliver Husband playing off the other wing had them on the back foot.
Drew Dowd was providing excellent ball out from the scrum half position and Rochdale crossed the line twice more to finish the game 3-2.
Johnson had deservedly captained the team well and his support play had set a standard for the rest to emulate.
Next up came Leigh who, despite not being the biggest side, were superb. Their offloading and use of space was excellent, passing down the line with great aplomb, turning Rochdale over in the ruck and then holding their shape to create overlap after overlap. Rochdale had no answer and never looked likely to get into their half, much less score. Half time couldn’t come quickly enough.
When it did, the guidance was clear – tackling is good, passing is good, rucking isn’t, and the line is being drawn out of shape allowing them to get through.
Wisdom imparted, they set off to a much improved structure. Cameron Stretch, Isaac Corns and Harry Nolan started to apply consistent and heavy pressure in the centre so Leigh now found themselves getting drawn in. A fair few minutes were spent probing for weaknesses in their line, and in their half but Leigh’s defence held, and held well.
Enterprising runs from Sam Davis and Husband almost saw them get through, but Leight held out.
Ben Foster managed to shut them down when they retrieved the ball, but another two tries were conceded. Despite the defeat, Rochdale played some of their best rugby of the morning in that second half. Support play was excellent, tackling was almost faultless, and handling and passing were quality.
The third game was against West Park.
The first two minutes saw Rochdale take things a bit too easily and almost pay the price for complacency, but heads quickly got back on the game and tries swiftly followed.
Johnson and Nolan’s support play complemented the solid foundation ball being won by Richards, Corns and Stretch. Dowd was delivering great ball from the breakdown and our speed players lapped it up. Husband, Foster, Davis and Wilde were relishing the space and converted it into points almost every time in a 7-1 win.