Media Watch: Rochdale Hornets
April 30, 2022
Cornwall RLFC are back on home soil tomorrow with Neil Kelly’s side welcoming Rochdale Hornets to the Memorial Ground – 1.00pm.
It will be a welcome return to the Duchy for Cornwall after two consecutive away matches at Doncaster and Oldham Roughyeds.
In both games, Cornwall demonstrated real fight and togetherness with signs that an elusive first Betfred League 1 victory is just around the corner.
Rochdale will undoubtedly be a stern test for Kelly’s improving side and they arrive in Cornwall sitting second in the table with four wins from five games.
The only blot on the Hornets’ copybook so far in 2022 came in round one when the Spotland outfit were defeated by league leaders North Wales Crusaders.
Since that early reverse, Rochdale have won four consecutive matches and last time out, travelled to the capital and defeated London Skolars 56-22.
Ahead of Rochdale’s Betfred League 1 round six clash, cornwallrlfc.co.uk spoke to their media man George Newell to discuss the Hornets’ season so far.
CW: After missing out on the play-offs last year, is finishing in the top six the minimum expected from Rochdale in 2022?
GN: It’s certainly the aim – we want to be back in the Championship. So to finish seventh last year was disappointing, even with all the injuries we had. However, with the likes of Rangi Chase now back to full fitness we feel we should be up there – although no one has a divine right to succeed. The club has recruited really well in the off-season as well and players such as Gregg McNally have hit the ground running. As a result, we feel that we’re well placed to be competitive in this division this time around.
CW: Rochdale have won five of their six games so far this season without clicking into top gear. Would that be a fair assessment of the first five rounds?
GN: There’s definitely more to come from this Hornets team. I think we’ve played some great stuff at times this season but rarely put it together over the course of 80 minutes. The start of games in particular has been a concern, and it was that which caused the defeat to North Wales on the opening day. On the flip side of that, when we started well against Oldham we were able to get a great win – despite going down to 12 men. So, I think there’s definitely things Matt (Calland, head coach) feels he needs to work on with the boys. But, we can take great pride in the fact that we’re second in the league, and scored the most points, despite not always having our best stuff.
CW: What will Rochdale be expecting from Cornwall on Sunday?
Cornwall won’t be taken lightly for sure; I think we know we’re in for a tough test. Despite the results, it’s clear to see that the team are making progress week-on-week and scoring a lot of points in the process. There’s evidently a lot of fight in the team, which I think is shown in some of the second half performances in particular. Plus, the attendance for the Hurricanes game was fantastic so, if there’s going to be nearly 1500 people watching again, that always makes things more difficult.
CW: Who is Rochdale’s player to watch?
GN: We’re fortunate to have a few players in our back line who can really ignite a game, but I think on form I’d probably have to say Lewis Sheridan. He’s been scoring tries for fun all year, and he seems to have developed a knack of scoring them at crucial times as well. Couple that with his goal kicking and he’s now the division’s leading points scorer – and he’ll probably feel he could’ve kicked more goals than he has.
In terms of a youngster, I think Ben Killan is really one to look out for. He joined us from Huddersfield Giants this season, and has looked comfortable in this division already. He’s got some real competition for prop forwards but it’ll be exciting to see how he develops this year.
CW: And finally, who has caught your eye in the Cornwall side this year?
GN: Given that Cornwall are scoring an encouraging number of tries, I think I’d have to give it to one of the backs. Harry Aaronson looked a real threat in the Oldham game last week, and was full value for his two tries. As well as being incredibly quick, he’s an intelligent rugby player also. I think you can see that in the intercept try he scored against North Wales. There’s exciting players across the team but I think he’s probably been the standout so far, for me.