Rochdale 23

Kirkby Lonsdale 6

North One West

IN-FORM Rochdale defeated Kirkby Lonsdale on a gloomy day in Lancashire.

From their kick off Rochdale maintained play in the Kirkby half but the visitors weathered the storm and got themselves into the tie, enjoying a 10-minute spell in their opponents half later in the game without reward.

In the second quarter Kirkby gleaned the first points of the match. Dale killed the ball, the penalty was centre field around 35 metres out but Liam Cleary struck it cleanly between the posts to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.

A penalty to the corner and a catch and drive which ultimately led to a Rochdale try from number eight Mike Bradwell edged the home side ahead 5-3.

Back came Kirkby, Cleary hitting the upright from an attempted penalty and within minutes, Dale’s number six Chris Hodgkinson was binned for 10 minutes. Amazingly, Cleary hit the same upright in almost exactly the same place from the resulting penalty and the score refused to move.

The pressure Kirkby were putting Dale under was immense and Cleary slotted home his second penalty of the afternoon to put his side 6-5 up at half time, with there being just enough time for him to miss another penalty before the interval.

Early exchanges in the second half were fairly even until Kirkby were penalised for not releasing and Dale number eleven Richard West kicked the three points for 8-6.

Rochdale stretched their lead in typical fashion when huge prop Oli Saparamadu went over from close range to make it 13-6.

Before the restart things took a turn for the worse for Kirkby when centre Jack Akrigg was called over by the ref and sent to the bin for 10 minutes for an earlier offence.

With half an hour to play Kirkby were within bonus point range and dealing with Rochdale's heavy forward assaults but then came a blow when influential second row Simon Dowker left the field with injury.

Kirkby's troubles mounted when number eight Jack Konczynski running back on side got in the way of a Dale pass and was binned. Without Dowker and with the number eight in the bin Kirkby were vulnerable to the big Rochdale forwards and Rochdale took every opportunity to get them close to the line.

The penalty count was mounting as the home team extended their lead to 16-6, and it was immediately after Konczynski re-entered the fray near the Kirkby line when prop Tim Groves received a yellow.

Richdale number seven Ross Hartley scored an inevitable try which was converted to make it 23-6 as Rochdale gained revenge for their defeat to Kirkby earlier in the season.