Rugby Union: Rochdale RUFC Under 11s

Date published: 04 December 2018

Rochdale RUFC 11 played in a quad-fixture at Leigh RUFC on Sunday (2 December 2018) featuring Leigh, West Park and a combined Crewe/Nantwich team.

Knowing how strong Leigh were, and not knowing the strengths of the other teams, Rochdale took an extremely strong 13 players along for what they anticipated would be the sternest test they had played this season. With Izzie Simpson just overcoming a virus and Jethro Richards clearly not recovered from midweek malaise, nonetheless it was a powerful squad.

1st Game – Rochdale 3-2 Crewe / Nantwich

From the off Rochdale were hounded back into their own half. An even battle with good tackling going in, but inevitably they found the line getting drawn in and after six minutes they found an overlap on the right of the pitch and ran in a deserved 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 involving at least ten phases of play and every player on the team 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 guessing which way Rochdale were going next. 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. 

2nd Game - Rochdale v Leigh (Leigh lots – Rochdale nil)

Leigh 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 Rochdale’s line was being drawn out of shape allowing Leigh to get through.

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 line, and in their half but Leigh defence held, and held well.

Enterprising runs from Sam Davis and Husband almost saw Rochdale get through, but Leigh managed to hold Rochdale out.

Ben Foster managed to shut them down when they retrieved the ball, but another two tries were conceded.

Despite the score-line of Leigh lots – Rochdale nil, we played some of our best rugby all morning in that second half.

Support play was excellent, tackling was almost faultless, and our handling and passing was quality. Rochdale will need to raise their counter-rucking and line shape if they’re going to beat Leigh at their next encounter though.

3rd Game - Rochdale 7-1 West Park

Having caught glimpses of West Park against the other teams, it always looked like Rochdale had enough quality in their side to finish with a good win, and so it proved. The first two minutes saw Rochdale take it a bit too easily and almost pay the price for complacency, but heads quickly got back in the game and tries swiftly followed.

Johnson and Nolan’s support play complimented the solid foundation ball being won by Richards, Corns and Stretch.

Dowd delivered a great ball from the breakdown and Rochdale’s speed players lapped it up. Husband, Foster, Davis and Wilde were relishing the space and converted it into points almost every time. 7-1 winners.

Try of the day went to West Park who booted the ball from the left touchline completely across the field, caught by their winger on the other side of the pitch, and run in. Worthy of a round of applause.

However, it wrapped up an excellent day of rugby, a stern test that saw us prove our worth as staunch opponents, and two wins out of three against quality opposition was well deserved.

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