Date published: 01 October 2021
Photo: Bruce Myers
The Rochdale and Aldwinians scrum
Rochdale entertained the Aldwinians on Moorgate Avenue in the Lancashire Cup first round on Sunday 26 September.
Both teams are at the top of their respective leagues although, with Rochdale being a few levels higher, Rochdale was expected to be the stronger team. That said, the Aldwinians recovered the kickoff and immediately attacked. Rochdale’s defense has been stingy so far this season and they’ve fought off early assaults.
Once Rochdale regained possession, they were able to move the ball quickly through their hands and progress down the pitch. Rochdale’s running backs made good forays into the Aldwinian defense and the full backs moved the ball wide at every opportunity. From an attack near the line, Olly Mills was on hand to reduce the defense and find the line (5-0).
The Aldwins were struggling to hold onto possession and Rochdale’s set pieces were dominant. Ben Hankinson became a real asset in the roster and the field had the opposition retreating at every scrum. After a kicked return, Rochdale staged two quick rucks, a quick ball ensued and was moved wide for Ben Kershaw to finish (10-0).
All the momentum was with Rochdale and they were working hard with and without the ball. After putting the Aldwins’ defense under pressure, Ollie Simpson recovered the free ball and presented himself unopposed (15-0).
Rochdale’s pressure was now relentless and forced the Aldwins to put the ball on the ground behind their own line. With the new laws, it is now a dropout from under their own batons. The resulting abandonment sailed straight into touch giving Rochdale a 5-yard scrum. When the ball escaped, Will Rawlinson was the first to respond, picking up the ball and making two tackles and over the line (22-0).
Rochdale scored again just before half-time when the ball was quickly moved wide and Will Simmons crossed into the corner, making it 29-0.
The interval did not interrupt Rochdale’s momentum. As soon as the restart, Simpson recovered the ball, beat the first defender and reached the outside, passing the cover before the inside pass found Ben Kershaw who delivered the scoring pass to Jacob Jackson (36-0).
The Aldwins couldn’t keep Rochdale out of their 22 and, from another well-executed line-up, the ball was driven blind before returning to the pitch where Ben Sunderland ran between two defenders to score (41 -0). Aldwinian’s restart didn’t go the full 10 yards, giving Rochdale a great offensive scrum. Rawlinson fed Zac Baker whose flat pass put Simmons in the gap and he ran 50 yards to score between the uprights (48-0).
Again on the restart, the ball didn’t travel 10 yards, but this time Rochdale played the ball and Jackson fed Sunderland whose arched run cut between two defenders and he sprinted to wrap up the score (55- 0).
The Aldwinians stuck to their task the entire game but ran into a fit Rochdale who was quite ruthless and didn’t let his intensity fade away. There were great individual performances in the midst of a great team performance. MOTM went to Simmons but it was a close call with Jackson also excelling. Rochdale progresses in the last eight where the opposition will be much tougher
Team: Joel Rigby, Garrett Myers, Paddy Kershaw, Bendan Hankinson, Ben Sunderland, Nick Wright, Tom Drennan, Jacob Jackson, Olly Mills, Will Rawlinson, Zac Baker, Mitchell Holt, Tom Shaw, Will Simmons, Ben Kershaw, Gabe Fraser, Max Cooper, Oli Simpson