Rugby Union: Liverpool Collegiate Under 14s 8 - 7 Rochdale Under 14s
Date published: 10 April 2019
Photo: Bruce Myers
Liverpool Collegiate U14s v Rochdale U14s
Rochdale's long-awaited Plate semi-final away to Liverpool Collegiate finally arrived on Sunday 7 April 2019.
Collegiate are from the league above Rochdale and their higher seeding ensured a home tie. From the outset it was clear that Liverpool had a forward-orientated game; they used their considerably larger pack to form driving mauls and feed one out runners to bulldoze forward, only bringing the backs into play once on the front foot. This proved very effective; however, Rochdale never shied away from the physical challenge and closed the space down, making tackle after tackle.
The opening score went to Liverpool after the Rochdale backs got ahead of the kicker and conceded a very kickable penalty in front of the posts. (3-0).
From the restart Rochdale pinned the home team back. After some pressure from the forwards in a lineout, slow ball to the fly half allowed Mitchell Holt to charge down his opposite numbers kick, the ball deflecting straight into Ben Kershaw’s arms. The Rochdale left winger caught the ball and cut through the home team defence to score next to the post. The extras were added by Holt and Rochdale held a 4-point lead (3-7).
Rochdale were still matching the Liverpool physicality, but it was taking its toll and Zak Baker had to move from scrum half to back row to cover for an injury. Rochdale were having to plug gaps everywhere now and, after going down to 14 men following a yellow card offence, Liverpool finally got the breakthrough they deserved. From a catch and drive at a lineout 5m from the Rochdale line, the weight advantage told and the Liverpool eight powered over, taking the score to 8-7. The conversion was missed and it was now a 1-point game at the half.
With Rochdale back to full strength for the second half, the game became defence orientated; both backlines playing the offside line to the limit meant there was very little space for creativity. Both Liverpool and Rochdale had forays into the opposition 22 but weren’t able to sustain the pressure. Neither team was able to add to their score in the second half which resulted in Rochdale losing by the smallest possible margin. It was hard to take after such a colossal effort.
There were some excellent performances; James O’Connell made a couple of try saving cover tackles, Ben Sunderland covered the field and turned over ball at crucial times and Nick Wright and Garrett Myers worked tirelessly carrying and tackling. Behind the scrum the mid-field tackling from Holt, Will Simmons and James Tasker was once again exemplary, but it was a team performance and every player contributed. It was also noticeable that there was no finger pointing and squabbling, every player did his job and covered for his team mates.
Man of the match went to Garrett Myers who once again gave everything in the set pieces and carried the ball and tackled himself to a standstill. The Rochdale players were disappointed at the end but there genuinely wasn’t much more that they could have done, and this was a reflection on how far they have come this season.
Squad: Garrett Myers, Kai Potter, James O’Connell, Bendan Hankinson, Paddy Kershaw, Joel Rigby, Nick Wright, Ben Sunderland, Zak Baker, Matthew Dearden, Mitchell Holt, Ben Kershaw, Will Simmons, James Tasker, Danny Nobis, Ollie Simpson, Matthew Pendlebury
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