Hornets run in 12 tries in McNally’s testimonial

Date published: 11 March 2024

Rochdale Hornets faced Leigh Leopards reserves on Sunday 3 March in a testimonial game for Gregg McNally.

Hornets’ head coach Gary Thornton handed a start to the former Leigh man on his testimonial day where his brilliant career in rugby league was celebrated with over a thousand fans coming out to show their support.

McNally ran out onto the pitch at Twist Lane, with his children by his side, through a guard of honour from both sides marking respect for his endeavours for both sides.

The Leopards’ who fielded seven first-teamers in the first half of the game, struck first on ten minutes after a scrappy start to affairs saw both sides finding their way into the game. Former Hornet Tommy Porter crossed from dummy-half as Hornets had defended successive tackles on their own line. Jack Derbyshire was successful with his conversion to give Leigh a 6-0 lead

Only four minutes later Hornets got themselves level in the game. Joe Hartley picked up the ball on the right edge, noticed an opportunity as he worked himself into a 2v1 then decided to go over himself to get his first of the game. Martyn Ridyard, back on his old stomping ground, missed the tough conversion. 6-4.

Leigh came again soon after the Hartley score, some stoic Hornets defence kept them at bay until the 21st minute when Jacob Gannon lined up and powered over the scrambling defence. Derbyshire again added the extras to increase the Leigh advantage to 12-4.

In a similar fashion to the response to the first Leigh try, Hornets crossed again soon after with Joe Hartley doubling his tally for the afternoon. Joe did well to gather an inch-perfect kick from Ridyard to go over in the right corner. Ridyard nailed the kick from the touchline to narrow the deficit to 12-10.

With the first half swinging in momentum, it was Leigh who seemed to take the initiative before the break as Jack Derbyshire went over the top of two Hornets defenders to score, the Leigh man could not convert his own 35th-minute try to leave the score at 16-10.

An action-packed first 40 did not end there as right on the hooter Ridyard rolled back the years to go solo from 30m out. Back at the ground where it all started, Ridyard fooled the Leigh defenders with a show-and-go before stretching his legs to go over under the sticks. Ridyard completed his six-point haul by converting his own try to see both sides go in at the break level at 16-16.


Gregg McNally's testimonial


Leigh made several changes at the break, bringing on some younger inexperienced heads but it was Hornets who struck first in the second half. Gregg McNally rolled back the years to cross on his testimonial for the most popular try of the day. The former Leigh man showed his old employers a clean set of heels as he raced through before a trademark dive into the corner sealed the try. The conversion by a Rochdale Hornets trialist was missed. 20-16.

Hornets went back-to-back soon after as Max Flanagan crossed in the corner, conversion again missed before Hornets instantly struck again, Connor Ratcliffe this time got onto the end of a perfectly weighted Lewis Else grubber kick to touch down with the referee eventually giving the try. The kick was good to give Hornets full control of the game leading 30-16 after 51 minutes.

The Rochdale tries kept coming as five minutes later Myles Harrop was released by a great pass before showcasing good pace to go over in the left corner, with a difficult conversion being missed to make it 34-16 after 16 second-half minutes.

Leigh crossed for their first score of the second period as Daniel Tabern went over from close range. Ben McNamara, son of Catalan Dragons boss Steve, added the extras to make it 34-22 to Rochdale. Leigh could have narrowed the advantage soon after, but TJ Boyd knocked on when in a promising position.

Lewis Else, the key Rochdale Hornets playmaker, crossed after 64 minutes. Else stepped inside two Leigh defenders before darting to the line to showcase all his abilities in one try. The trialist added the extras to increase the lead to 40-22.

The Hornets then racked up four tries in ten minutes to add some gloss to the scoreline.

Myles Harrop crossed for his second of the game to get the scoring spree underway, going down a weakened Leigh left edge to score. Connor Ratcliffe showcased a turn of pace to cross for his second of the game to bring up 50 points for the Hornets after 70 minutes. Ridyard converted one out of the two quickfire tries scored.

Joe Hartley completed his hat trick soon after, some intricate build-up resulted in Joe receiving a great offload to dive over to score his third and Hornets’ 11th try of the afternoon with Ridyard again adding the extras.

Hornets winger Luke Forber completed the scoring for the day as a superb, lofted pass from Ridyard was claimed by Forber before he out-paced the scrambling Leigh defender to cross in the corner with Ridyard missing a difficult kick from out wide to bring the score to 60-22.

The hooter called an end to a great day for all involved with Rochdale Hornets and Gregg McNally. Gary Thornton's side with the perfect preparations for their big League One season opener against Midland Hurricanes on 17 March.


Gregg McNally's testimonial


For McNally, he got to celebrate his perfect day with a try at the ground where he spent so much time in the past surrounded by the people closest to him. The perfect day for a real stalwart of the game.

Full Time: Rochdale Hornets 60 - 22 Leigh Leopards Reserves

Rochdale Hornets: McNally, Forber, Hartley, Harrop, Nixon, Ridyard, Else, Nelmes, Rudd, Brannan, Ratcliffe, Straugheir, Forster
Interchanges: Dayes, Barraclough, Brennan, Andrade, Flanagan, Killan, Trialist

Tries: Hartley x3, Ratcliffe x2, Harrop x2, Ridyard, McNally, Flanagan, Else, Forber
Goals: Ridyard 4/7, Trialist 2/5

Report by Thomas Pearson

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