Slow start costly for the under 14s
AFTER a three-week Christmas break Rochdale were eager to get back into action with a rearranged fixture against Stockport.
Stockport have a very impressive record this year having only lost a couple of times in the current season.
Unfortunately, Rochdale succumbed to a very slow start and allowed the home team to cross the line three times in the first 15 minutes.
There was definitely a touch of post-Christmas lethargy about the first quarter performance; with some missed tackles and a lack of urgency.
However, credit to the boys for regrouping and managing to shut Stockport out in the second quarter, turning around at 15-0.
Rochdale were now playing down the slope and began to get some traction in the game. Garrett Myers, Taylor Hartley, Billy Pirouzan and Nick Wright had some strong runs and Ben Sunderland and Mitch Holt were competing at the break down for turn-over when allowed.
It was against the run of play when Stockport scored again from a length of the field effort by their right wing.
However, the tide had begun to turn, and Rochdale’s strong running finally paid off with Hartley crashing over under the posts quickly followed by Will Simmons, racing clear after gathering a loose ball.
This brought the score back to 20-12 and Rochdale were within touching distance of parity.
This became a reality when Wright managed to get the ball down after some more good pressure and handling.
The conversion was successful, and it was a one-point game.
With the score at 20-19 and only five minutes remaining, it was anyone’s game.
At this point the best option for Rochdale would probably have been to try to kick for territory and use the slope to pin Stockport back.
However, Rochdale continued to run the ball and, although the handling was slick, nobody got over the gain-line which allowed Stockport to pressurise the receiver and eventually force the error.
From the resultant scrum, the Stockport number eight, who had been to the fore all game, collected the ball and outpaced the Rochdale defence to the corner for the decisive score.
There was still time for the restart and, with the score standing at 25-19 to Stockport, Rochdale were still within a converted try.
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to wrestle possession from the home team before the clock ran out.
Definitely a game of two halves and full credit to Rochdale for battling back from a 20-point deficit to give the home team a fright.
A good team performance, despite the slow start, and some great individual efforts - a highlight being Danny Nobis catching his opposite winger and putting in a try-saving tackle.
Man of the Match was shared between Billy Pirouzan for strong ball carrying and Charlie Bleackley for his ball carrying and tackling.
Garrett Myers, Kai Potter, Billy Pirouzan, James O’Connell, Joel Rigby, Paddy Kershaw, Taylor Hartley, Charlie Bleackley, Bendan Hankinson, Ben Sunderland, Matt Dearden, Jack Taylor, Mitchell Holt, Ben Kershaw, James Tasker, Ollie Simpson, Nick Wright, Danny Nobis, Matt Pendlebury
●●Action from Rochdale under 14s clash against Stockport at the weekend