Rugby Union: Rochdale U14s 26 - 5 Bowdon U14s
Date published: 13 December 2018
Photo: Bruce Myers
Bowden U14s v Rochdale U14s
With the rain relenting, Rochdale under 14s were able to fulfil their fixture at home to Bowdon. Rochdale opted to play into the wind and up the slope in the first half, hoping to contain the visitors for the first 30 minutes and exploit the conditions in the second. They proceeded to execute the plan to perfection.
Against a fairly sizable opposition, Rochdale absorbed all the pressure Bowdon could exert and then countered with some well-structured rugby, taking the ball into contact and making the hard yards close to the rucks.
The forwards set the platform for the backs to drive downfield but the game was close and remained scoreless for the first 20 minutes.
Bowdon were attempting to gain yardage with some heavy runners off the rucks and mauls before sending the ball along their back line.
Rochdale were countering this with some good first-up tackles, lead by Garrett Myers, James O’Connell and Paddy Kershaw. Ben Sunderland was being a constant nuisance at the break down winning numerous turnovers and penalties. But it was a missed touch kick that gave Bowdon their first real opportunity and they skilfully moved the ball across the pitch to convert an overlap and score in the corner.
This was crunch time for Rochdale as it would have been easy to switch off and concede more tries before half time, but this proved to be the spark that Rochdale needed, as backs and forwards combined to drive the team up the field with wave after wave of runners with Billy Pirouzan, Chris McConnell and Brad Rowley to the fore.
Rowley crossed the line and looked to have scored but the whistle had already gone. From the ensuing penalty Mitch Holt executed a dummy scissors to scoot over and convert his try for a 7-5 half time lead.
Rochdale knew that playing with the conditions in their favour in the second half would be a big advantage, but they still needed to execute their game plan. Most of the second period was played in the Bowdon half. Rochdale’s suffocating defence stifled any attempts to run the ball out and the wind made kicking a futile exercise as it just gifted possession back to Rochdale.
Bowdon didn't make it easy, they have a squad in excess of 30 players who are organised and well drilled. However, it seemed inevitable that Rochdale would score from the constant pounding on the Bowdon line and this they did after the sustained pressure finally paid off with Myers forcing his way over from close range.
There was to be no respite for Bowdon as Rochdale continued to hem them in their own half and, try as they may, there was an air of inevitability that Rochdale would score next. Once again it was the direct approach from the forwards that created the platform and, from another penalty close to the Bowdon line, Holt accelerated through a gap to score and convert his second try.
With the game running out, Rochdale kicked cross field from a penalty, the ball was chased down by newcomer Josh Clarke who outpaced the defence, gathered the ball and finished under the posts. Holt added the extras and the final whistle followed.
The score of 26-5 was probably harsh on Bowdon who competed fiercely in the forwards and created lots of opportunities in the backs.
It was another full team performance from Rochdale; James Tasker again exhibited his strong running and tackling, Ollie Simpson, Matty Pendlebury, Matt Dearden, Zak Baker and Ben Kershaw had excellent games snuffing out attacks down the flanks, usually against bigger opposition.
Jack Taylor was busy at the break down with fast hands and sniping runs. Taylor Hartley carried strongly and made the big tackles in the mid field. Bendan Hankinson, Sonny Joyce and Kia Potter were clearing rucks, hitting mauls and supporting open play.
The game was won in the first half after an awesome defensive display. MOTM was awarded to Ben Sunderland for his crucial turn overs and all-round play at the breakdown.
Squad: Garrett Myers, Billy Pirouzan, James O’Connell, Kai Potter, Brad Rowley, Joel Rigby, Paddy Kershaw, Taylor Hartley, Sonny Joyce, Chris McConnell, Bendan Hankinson, Ben Sunderland, Matthew Dearden, Jack Taylor, Zak Baker, Mitchell Holt, James Tasker, Taylor Hartley, Matty Pendlebury, Ben Kershaw, Oliver Simpson, Josh Clarke
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