The Vale XV :-
Josh Sutcliffe *
Ollie Wilkinson *
Eddie Abdelghfar (Algebra for short)
Jamie Antcliffe (Capt)
Nathan Allan *
Keiran Pickup *
Manager on the Day Mr. Paul Peters….
After continuous rain on the Friday, amazingly the Powderhouse Lane pitch was in immaculate condition. Why, should I say amazingly ?? The volunteer Ground teams put many hours in nursing the pitch in order to get games such as this played. Thanks to each and everyone of these Gents !!!
The Rochdale side arrived at the Vale with a most favourable record to date not only in the Baines Plumbing Division One League but also in the Cotton Traders Jug competition. In fact leading in both Competitions. Whilst they have been successful in the League actually having beaten both Manchester and Waterloo – note our results there – they are leading the mini League in this Jug competition and will now move into the Semi Finals to be played on Saturday March 16th.
The Vale XV once again a mixture of sheer youth and no mean experience. The XV had already downed Rochdales colours in the League and in fact enjoyed a close game over at Moorgate Avenue early season. Actually the Vale XV is indeed a good side when availability allows….
Today the mixture of youth and experience was there to be seen. Four current Colts were selected on merit and were indeed to produce some commendable performances. They are the future, well managed at Colts level by Neil Sutcliffe and last season Tony Gilmour.
The Rochdale XV were here, where a victory would take them into the Semi Final, of course the Vale XV had struggled in this competition and with a concede at Kendal they were playing for “enjoyment.”
Whilst the Vale XV were a mixture of youth and experience Rochdales XV was indeed the same. They are indeed a good side..
Referee Chris Meadows kicked the game off on time and he himself was to enjoy a good game controlling things fairly and strictly. Watched closely by his assessor on the day our own David Bateman.
Over the season the Vale pack certainly in the tight phases of the game had held their own against all oppositions. The front row today with Robbie Skelton, James Hesketh and Joe Harrison were a powerful trio which would cause any opposition major difficulties. In the second row a pairing of two of the colts in Josh Sutcliffe and Ollie Wilkinson were to provide support to the three up front locking the scrum with so much knowledge, strength and ability.
Behind them Tom Miller – improves every week a damned good player – Ben Keenan at No. 8 taking clean lineout ball at all the Vale throw ins and enjoying a foraging game round the Park. Eddie Abdelghfar moving from the threequarters to back row and was to enjoy a powerful game but the Rochdale defensive play didn’t allow the space for him to show his undoubted talent.
The Rochdale XV were to cross the Vale line twice in the first half after some slick moves, moving the ball rapidly through hands to out manoeuvre the Vale cover and defence. Both conversions failed but with a penalty conceded they moved into a 13 point lead as the half progressed.
At scrum half Karan Banga was enjoying possibly his best game to date – his first at this level – providing useful ball to his fly half and Skipper Jamie Antcliffe. Jamie seems to be thriving under the mantel of Captaincy once again showing his undoubted ability using his strength and guile. With both JIMS … in charge, the Vale have indeed the making of a good XV.
Harry Finan we know a talented player was to play a fine game alongside Josh Mitten who seems to play anywhere, forward or threequarter, were defending strongly as Rochdale attacked but conversely were showing both pace and strength when attacking. We know of course of Harry Fs ability.
On the wings Travis Bell and Nathan Allan were up to the game -apologies Travis, don’t think I mentioned you as a try scorer last week – and their defensive work was needed.
At fullback was Buzza, don’t need to offer his full name – just Buzza – A player of natural flair, pace, kicking ability and all the needs of a talented rugby player. He must be in the side.
The game turned round with Rochdale holding on to their 13 point lead. Manager Paul Peters was contemplating his moves regards his replacements. George Oyston was introduced into the front row. Joe Harrison had been advised to play only half the game by Brogan the Vale physio. He wanted to carry on !! George of course is an experienced prop so no mean lad to take his place in the front row.
Isaac Thornton and Kieron Pickup – another colt in the side- took their places. At this stage the Vale were attacking the Rochdale line and Alfi Bolton came off the bench to show his usual pace and talent both in defence and attack.
It was from this and after an audacious pass from Hesky that Alfie crossed for Vales first try. Buzza of course converting from wide out and the Club House end.
The Vale were in touch of the 6 point gap, and pressing hard to actually close it and in fact with a successful conversion take the lead. An error in the middle of the field allowed the Rochdale side to break free and a move filled with pace they worked the ball into open spaces and scored an 80 yard try. From being in touch the gap had now widened but not affected the Vale sides spirit. IT Was THERE TO BE SEEN !!
From the kick Off and virtually on the Vale line Nathan Allan collected the ball and with a swerving run outpacing the Rochdale cover he cleared the Vale line linking up at the half way line with his compatriots, then in support gathered the ball once again to cross for a well deserved try.
I must give Nathan the Man of the Match award actually agreed afterwards with Manager Paul Peters.
The close was coming and now the Vale on 14 points after yet another successful conversion by Buzza, Rochdale were to cross again to take their score to 27 points and a commendable win on the day which unfortunately doesnt take them into the Semi Finals,as they miss out to Kendal on the head -Head Rule ,tie to be played on Saturday March 16th…
The Vale XV are a side to watch playing some great rugby and displaying talent that augurs well for the future !!!