Rugby Union: Rochdale U11s 7 - 5 Sedgley Park

Date published: 23 January 2019

A great game was had on Sunday 20 January between Rochdale RUFC’s U11s and Sedgley Park.

The weather was very pleasant for a mid-January morning. Rochdale were missing Harry Nolan and Freddie Yearsley due to injuries sustained earlier in the week. Nonetheless Rochdale had an excellent squad at their disposal, the only concern being that their biggest hitting forwards were either in action at Cleckheaton or in recovery.

To start the game, Rochdale had a new look to the front three, with Max Evans, Drew Dowd and Alex Ogilvie tasked with providing the punch through the middle.

Sam Bowers assumed his customary position as scrum half, a position he is looking increasingly assured in, and a stellar three quarters with Finn Johnson at fly half, his brother Jake, Will Brown and Noah Wilde on the wing. was to hold the other wing and act as full-back.

This was a fixture the team had lost last year by a small margin so the guidance was very simple - you've got the skills, what will win the fixture is intensity: be quick, in their face and provide relentless pressure.

From the whistle, Rochdale got exactly that, a ferocious chase of the ball, quick turnover and within three minutes, were two tries to the good. Exceptional running by Husband on both occasions on a platform of great ball won by the forwards and swiftly manged through the Johnson brothers saw Sedgley Park reeling.

Another period of great pressured play, with superb rucking bringing the ball back time after time, followed by positive ball distribution down the line saw Wilde cross the line for another well-earned point.

As Sedgley Park fears grew for a complete whitewash, they started to assert themselves and Rochdale sustained a series of attacks on our own try line. This however culminated in a lovely move where on turnover of the ball, Rochdale swiftly got the ball down the line for Will Brown to complete a try-line to try-line sprint and make the score 4-0 in our favour.

Undeterred, Sedgley Park continued to up their intensity and were eventually rewarded with a well-worked try for them driven over by their power players. This spurred the Rochdale players on again and Husband completed his hat trick to make the score 5-1.

Realising they were under the cosh and getting little joy from their direct handling play, Sedgley Park now decided to revert to a kicking game which yielded dividends and a kick over the top, quick chase and turnover saw them cross the line for a halftime score 5-2.

In the second half, Rochdale experimented and moved Finn Johnson into the forwards, with Tim Moore and Louis Tait joining the three quarters. Dowd dropped back to scrum half and Sam Davis replaced Oliver Husband before the second half resumed. Within minutes, a typical Sam Davis burst of speed saw him pull off a lovely jinking run to leave Sedgley for dust.

There was still a lot of the second half to go though, and as intensity dropped off, Sedgley Park increased their pressure. Will Brown scored a great second half try for Rochdale but Sedgley Park ran over three tries using their kick over the top again to good effect and what should have been a comfortable win became significantly more tense. The game concluded 7-5 with Rochdale camped on the Sedgley Park try-line and looking likely to add another to their score.

Credit goes to the forwards, with Max Evans leading the pack purposefully into the muscle encounters and both Dowd and Ogilvie getting strong runs up the pitch in their own right. This was a day where the backs also excelled: the Johnson brothers, Brown, Wilde and Husband worked as a flawless unit throughout the first half, and Tim Moore reprised Oliver Husband's role of running straight and hard at the opposition in the second half superbly.

Tait also got a cracking run round the side being held up about 2 metres short of their try-line when he looked certain to score.

However, the man of the match went to Sam Bowers who was fearless, getting into every breakdown to root the ball out and distribute out to his capable backs.

A great game, made more amusing by the fact that Russ Brown, who was refereeing, insisted on calling the opposition ‘Bury’ rather than Sedgley Park for most of the match.

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