Rugby union: Bolton RUFC 29 - 37 Rochdale RUFC

Date published: 19 March 2020

Despite being without Shaun Needham, Ross Hartley and Ollie Coldman, and with Travis Townsend en route back from Portugal, Dale fielded a strong side. With Danny Joesbury at scrum half and Eddie Shanks in the second row,  the team had a nice balance with old heads Tom Callaghan and Tom Hindle leading the pack.

The pitch was in surprisingly good nick considering the recent rain which returned as the game kicked off. Dale were soon on the attack and after a high clearance kick by Nick Ahearn they were pressing the Bolton 5 metre area Josh Boardman pounced on a loose pass and slid the ball inside to Mike Cross and the wing forward made no mistake. Ahearn pulled the conversion wide so 5-0 to Dale with only a few minutes on the clock.

Bolton were stunned into an early response and after a good break in the midfield only two great tackles by first Cross and after a scrum by Ahearn the home side managed to cross the Dale line for a converted try 7-5 after 10 minutes.

The action continued with Dale pressing once again, this time Beltus Nonleh playing at loose forward crashed into the Bolton defence supported by Tom Hindle he found the try line 7-10.

Next came arguably Dale’s best try with Nonleh sucking in the Bolton defence and a fine scissor move saw Spud Green pass to Josh Boardman and back again to totally bamboozle the home defence. Boardman touched down and Ahearn made no mistake with the conversion 7-17.

Dale had their tails up and with good line out work from Chris Hodgkinson and Eddie Shanks quick ball was always there and despite the driving rain Dale managed another try as half time loomed. This time a James Duffy chip through was followed up by Ahearn who scored a good ty but could not convert 7-22.

Dom Macklin made a great interception and the break was held on the right wing but a series of offsides was punished by the referee and Ahearn stepped up to slot over a fine penalty into the swirling wind 7-25.

The game looked over but just before half time Bolton's scrum half Will Bate broke through and a move wide on the left outnumbered the Dale defence for a try which was converted on the stroke of half time 14-25.

Half time saw the inclusion of Travis Townsend who had rushed straight from the airport to play. He replaced the unlucky Danny Joesbury who had had a faultless first half at scrum half and set the team on a winning track.

Travis was soon in the action creating chances from the base of the scrum and as Dale inched nearer, up popped hooker Jonny Bradley to score a rare try 14-30.

This prompted Bolton to redouble their efforts and after a long looping pass by Pritchard , Dale again found themselves outnumbered on the right side and the Bolton winger scored in the corner 21-30.

Minutes later the Bolton fly half completed a copycat try when a high and slightly forward looking pass took out two Dale defenders and saw the winger again finish off in the corner. 26-30. Things were looking serious now and when Dale gave away a silly penalty 35 metres out, Bate elected to kick, the ball soared high through the posts 29-30.

The game was now on with both sides battling the conditions and a pitch that was cutting up badly, Bolton pressed hard but Dale defended well with Hill and Foster in the pack and Townsend trying all his trickery to release Nonleh on his pounding runs.

It was Dale that had the final laugh with a try in the final minute that Ahearn converted to make the final score 29-37 to the visitors.

A pulsating game of rugby in awful conditions saw Dale get maximum points after letting a good lead slip for the second week, and remain in third place in the league.

Finally a mention for Dale’s 3rd team who secured promotion with another win.

*Following guidance from the RFU all games have been suspended until at least 14 April.*

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