Rochdale Hornets 24-12 Barrow Raiders
Sunday 11th March 2018, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 6
Lewis Palfrey, Patrick Moran, Deon Lewis Cross, Lee Mitchell, Rob Massam,
Lewis Palfrey 2,
Luke Cresswell, Declan Hulme,
Brad Marwood 2,
HORNETS OFF THE MARK
It feels like an eternity since Rochdale Hornets were last in the winner’s circle, having started the 2018 campaign with three defeats.
Add to that the two losses at the end of last season, and you’d have to go back to Sunday 3rd September to find their last victory as they defeated Swinton Lions 16-8.
In the grand scheme of things it was only five games, but due to the off season Alan Kilshaw’s men were left with a distant memory of that winning feeling.
Welcoming Barrow Raiders to the Crown Oil Arena for the first time since 2015 seemed like the perfect opportunity to belt out the winner’s song once again, but complacency wouldn’t get Hornets anywhere.
The visitors came into the game off the back of a defeat and a postponement, although prior to that they had picked up a shock victory over Leigh Centurions and held Toronto Wolfpack to a draw.
The newly promoted side were no mugs, but were without influential halfback Jamie Dallimore due to a four-match suspension for dangerous contact.
Hornets made four changes to the side which travelled to France, as Harvey Livett and Jack Johnson returned to Warrington Wolves – the latter suffering a season ending leg break during training in the week. Blake Turner and Ryan Maneely were also left out, as Joe Taira and Dec Kay returned to the fold, with Gary Middlehurst and Lewis Palfrey back from injury.
The afternoon marked 250 career appearances for Dave Allen, while Lee Mitchell also notched up his 150th appearance in the professional game.
It started badly for the home side, as they knocked on a short kick-off and gave the Raiders an opportunity to attack, however it took 15 minutes for the first score.
It went the way of the away side, as Luke Cresswell muscled past a number of defenders to touch down out wide – much to the delight of team mate Dallimore who was on commentary duties in the press box.
Straight from the kick-off Hornets gave away a penalty, marching Barrow up-field where they picked up their second of the afternoon. This time Thomas Walker’s offload sent Declan Hulme through a gap in the defence to make it 10-0 to the visitors.
A stunned Rochdale wondered where it had all go wrong, before Bradley Marwood added a penalty goal on the 23rd minute.
On the half hour mark Barrow were reduced to 12-men, as Jarrad Stack’s dangerous lifting tackle left Middlehurst needing treatment. They weren’t a man down until the second half though, as Richard Lepori was yellow-carded for taking matters into his own hands after watching what had happened to his team mate.
That would be the last act of any significance in the first period, as Hornets went into the sheds trailing 12-0. A different beast emerged from the dressing rooms, as a second-half onslaught saw them over-turn that deficit in the space of seven minutes.
The first of the comeback tries fell to the best player on the pitch, as Palfrey danced in from dummy half just five minutes into the second period.
He was soon followed over by Pat Moran, who barged through an attempted tackle and carried the fullback over the line with him, putting Rochdale within two points.
They then hit the front, as Rob Massam collected Danny Yates’ cross-field kick, before offloading to Deon Cross who raced in for his first try for the club.
On the hour mark Mitchell benefitted from Taira’s deft pass at the line to race in for a try on his landmark appearance, with the try of the game coming six minutes later. Yates again found Massam with a pinpoint kick, as the winger timed his run and jump to perfection to round off the victory in emphatic style.
The remainder of the game saw the Raiders throw all they had at Kilshaw’s side, but they stood up to the task and repelled wave after wave of attack to keep their line intact.
Rochdale halted one last effort after the hooter had sounded to record a 24-12 win and get off the mark for 2018, with the winner’s song ringing out around the home dressing room once again.
Man of the Match: Dave Allen covered every blade of grass and was solid in defence, but he was pipped by the returning Lewis Palfrey. The halfback pulled the strings and showed glimpses of class in attack, taking on the line and coming up with some smart set finishes.