Rochdale 62 Cornwall 6 – Match Report
May 21, 2023
Cornwall’s wait for an away victory in Betfred League 1 goes on after Mike Abbott’s side were sunk at a sun drenched Spotland by Rochdale Hornets.
The home side ran in 11 tries with stand off Lewis Else bagging a brace, while former Choughs Toby Brannan and Joe Purcell also crossed the whitewash.
The visitors named all of their new recruits from a hectic spell of recent transfer activity since losing to Hunslet at the Mem last Saturday. Permanent singing David Weetman started at interchange alongside Hunslet loan duo Spencer Darley and Harvey Whiteley.
Leo Tennison, back for his second loan spell from Super League side Hull Kingston Rovers, started in the front row.
Under clear blue skies, on a perfect pitch for expansive free-flowing rugby, Rochdale had first use of the football and after marching the Choughs up the field, hooker Cam Berry’s kick in behind was ruled to have been fumbled by merry whistle blower Brad Milligan.
This kept Rochdale in range and after another Cornwall hand on the ball forced a set restart, the hosts went over through Else. His halfback partner Dave Hewitt knocked over a routine conversion.
It nearly got even better for Rochdale shortly after as despite knocking the ball forward with the infringement missed by the referee, Purcell appeared to have scored. However, the Widnes born full-back was pulled up for another mystery infringement.
The respite was only temporary for the Choughs though as Mr Milligan’s inconsistent officiating hampered the away side. After appearing to give a penalty for something the Rochdale side said, the man in the middle then changed his mind and penalised Cornwall.
The Hornets gained good momentum from this questionable decision and Jack Arnold powered over under the posts.
Cornwall nearly hit back straight away though as Luke Collins cut Rochdale open up the middle. Purcell made a brilliant last ditch tackle and on the last tackle, Adam Rusling’s cross-field kick narrowly escaped the clutches of Harry Aaronson.
The flying winger almost scored again shortly after as Rusling’s kicking game on the last came to the fore once more.
Cornwall were then forced to play the next 10 minutes a man light when skipper Liam Whitton was sent to the sinbin for questioning yet another curious decision from the man in the middle. This time, not calling held, Cornwall managed to bundle Rochdale’s Ben O’Keefe into touch. However, the decision was to award Rochdale a penalty and Whitton a yellow card.
Rochdale made Cornwall pay when forward Lewis Peachy, on loan from Championship high fliers Sheffield Eagles, powered over. A third Hewitt conversion of the afternoon gave the Hornets an 18-0 lead.
Before the half hour mark, Rusling came close to executing an interception before the ball went loose after an Aaronson break.
Weathering the visitors’ storm, Rochdale then scored three times before the break to ultimately put the match out of Cornwall’s reach.
Firstly hooker Aaron Smith, with his first touch of the game, scored while further tries from Hewitt and winger Ciaran Tyrer put Rochdale 34-0 ahead at the turnaround.
Cornwall managed to stem the Rochdale flow in the early exchanges after half-time and on 45 minutes, should have seen a man sent to the bin.
The ball went into touch near the Cornwall line and Aaronson’s efforts to start the game quickly were thwarted by Tyrer who crudely threw the ball away. A spate of handbags then ensued with the referee deciding, once order had been restored, to speak to both captains.
Cornwall then had their best chance of half to score points but after going the full length in one set, Whiteley was held up close to the Rochdale line.
From the handover in possession, it was Rochdale’s turn to go the length of the field and Berry’s break from dummy-half saw Brannan stroll in under the posts.
Cornwall thought they had replied in kind almost immediately in a crazy passage of play, Cam Brown’s kick was gathered cleanly by Rochdale but the Australian ripped the ball cleanly, shipped it to Ashton who found Aaronson, but play was pulled back for a forward pass.
This marginal call seemed to visibly deflate Cornwall as Rochdale scored a further four tries in quick succession.
Umyla Hanley intercepted Brown’s long pass with a two man overlap before Purcell’s trademark show and go led to the try count for Rochdale moving into double figures.
Else bagged his second of the afternoon while O’Keefe completed the home side’s scoring.
But credit to Cornwall as they finished the game well and were rewarded with a consolation score through debutant Weetman. With Adam Rusling off the field nursing a rib injury, Brown knocked over the extras with the full-time siren sounding shortly after.
Rochdale: Purcell, Tyrer, Hanley, O’Keefe, Nixon, Else, Hewitt, O’Hanlon, Berry, Peachey, Forster, Brewin, Arnold. Interchange: (all used) Smith, Brannan, Jones, Spencer-Tonks
Tries: Else (4,66), Arnold (12), Hewitt (21), Smith (30), Hewitt (34), (Tyrer 40), Brannan (54), Hanley (62), Purcell (64), O’Keefe (69)
Goals: Hewitt 9/11
Cornwall: Whitton, Carter, Nichol, Ashton, Aaronson, Brown, Rusling, Tennison, Collins, Boots, Cullen, Dimech, Lloyd. Interchange: (all used) Whiteley, Darley, Bodman, Weetman.
Tries: Weetman (76)
Goals: Brown 1/1
Sinbin: Whitton (21, dissent)
Referee: Brad Milligan