Rochdale give Students a stern test
Rochdale's new look Town team took to the field for the first time at Castleton Sports Centre and provided a stern test for the Great Britain Students team before losing out 42-18.
Rochdale coach Chris Hough was able to take plenty of positives from the performance of his players, who showed superb commitment and tenacity against a student side who are preparing for the upcoming test series against Australia.
Hough said, "The GB Students coach Clive Griffiths has just said to me it was just the test the students needed – a tough, physical game.”
"I am really proud of the boys. We’ve only had three training sessions and showed good structure and go forward. There’s plenty to work on."
Rochdale dominated the opening exchanges, big hits and strong running forcing errors from the GB team.
But, despite their territorial advantage they just lacked the wherewithal to unlock the visitors’ defence.
And, in the 14th minute, the visitors showed them how it was done, slick handling among the three quarters creating space for Pat Evans to score out wide. Mark Wool converted.
The hosts hit back, two penalties and solid work in the forwards taking them close to the line from where Ryan Tetley squeezed over from acting half for a converted try.
It was nip and tuck at this stage but the GB team always looked threatening with ball in hand.
They confirmed this with tries from Adam Scott and the nimble-footed Dan Kerr, the second the result of poor tackling, both converted by Wool.
Rochdale reduced the arrears early in the second half when Hough’s high kick was fumbled by John Paxton, the hosts’ player coach seizing on to the loose ball to score. Danny Pyke converted.
The home team then began to tire – the majority of players had turned out for their clubs on Saturday – and the GB Students stretched their lead with tries from Harry Mostyn, John Horton and Lee Hudson, the unerring Wool converting all three.
In the interim, Rob Kershaw had a try harshly disallowed for a knock-on when he appeared to have grounded the ball fairly.
Rochdale, though, weren’t prepared to lie down and when the Students’ defence failed to deal with another kick Hough was again on hand to pounce for a try. Pyke converted.
In the final minute, Horton took advantage of a perfect bounce from Pat Smith’s grubber to notch a try for the visitors, which Wool converted.
In the end, Rochdale were beaten 42-18 by a team that has been together for some time, although the scoreline didn’t reflect the effort put in by the hosts.
The home team showed grit, determination and promise which augurs well for the future of the Town team concept and there will surely be better things to come.