Rochdale Hornets v Sheffield Eagles
Sunday 29th April 2018, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 12
Stats over last 8 encounters
HORNETS INJURY WOES CONTINUE IN EAGLES DEFEAT
Rochdale Hornets’ injury concerns before Sunday’s clash with Sheffield Eagles left the squad down to the bare bones, as Taylor Welch, Rob Massam, Ben Moores, Dec Gregory and Lewis Palfrey were all unavailable.
That list grew as early as the warm-up, as Lewis Hatton was a late omission with a shoulder injury, and it became worse as the contest began.
15 minutes in Joe Taira’s game was over, before both Toby and Luke Adamson were side lined – with the latter reappearing in place of Pat Moran who limped off late on, despite the Hornets captain breaking his thumb.
Dave Allen’s game was also cut short, as the back rower sustained a suspected concussion following a late tackle off the ball, which went unpunished.
Despite being busted, Rochdale’s effort could not be faltered as they remained in the contest until a late double from the visitors blew the score out.
Tyler Whitaker came in on trial at halfback and impressed in his first outing, while Billy Brickhill stood up at hooker in a brilliant 80 minute performance.
Blake Turner also featured following a long spell out of the side, and made a positive impact from the bench in the final 20 minutes with some hard hitting defence.
The afternoon started off badly, as Ryan Millar opened Sheffield’s account after just four minutes, as he showed enough pace to round his opposite man on the left edge.
Hornets were then forced to defend six straight sets on their line, with the touch judge awarding two penalties, one which denied Deon Cross what could have been a breakaway try. It wasn’t to be though, and the sheer amount of defending caught up with the hosts, as Greg Burns crossed from dummy half.
Corey Makelim crossed for the Eagles’ third score, chiming into the line from fullback to find a gap and race in, with Simon Brown adding all three conversion attempts.
Hornets then crossed just after the half hour mark as Lee Mitchell scored from Danny Yates’ flat pass at the line, in what was the halfback’s 100th appearance for the club.
An immediate response saw Matty James crash over from close range, however the home side had the last say in the half as Brickhill burrowed over from dummy half to make it a 12-point game at the break.
From the kick-off set at the start of the second period, Mark Offerdahl came up with a knock on, and from the resulting set Matty Hadden broke through the middle before reaching out and finding the try line.
It looked to be the momentum shift Rochdale so desperately needed, only for a familiar face to hit back immediately, as Jack Ashworth latched onto Brown’s kick to reinstate the 12-point lead.
The game hung in the balance for the majority of the second half, as Mitchell bombed a certain try with a poor pass to Cross, as it seemed the forward could have gone alone to pick up his second of the afternoon.
Then, Moran was held up over the line despite he and his team mates claiming the ball had found the floor.
Whitaker broke from dummy half on the last play, but after his cross field kick had found Gary Middlehurst Hornets couldn’t finish the move.
The loss of Allen and Moran led to a tired Hornets defence shipping a further 10 points to lose sight of their opponents, as Fozard stepped through the defence before Joshua Toole pounced on Richard Lepori’s knock on inside the in-goal.
Those tries gave the Eagles a flattering score line, as the hosts were left to rue missed opportunities and wonder what the make-up of their next 19-man squad could look like.
HORNETS: Dec Kay, Richard Lepori, Seta Tala, Toby Adamson, Deon Cross, Tyler Whitaker, Danny Yates, Joe Taira, Billy Brickhill, Luke Adamson, Dave Allen, Gary Middlehurst. Subs: Matty Hadden, Earl Hurst, Pat Moran, Blake Turner.
Tries: Mitchell (31), Brickhill (38), Hadden (42) Goals: Whitaker 2/3
Rochdale13 Hornets man of the match: Billy Brickhill has given his all for the Hornets cause so far this season, and stepped in at hooker with a brilliant 80 minute display. He was solid in defence, and even picked up a try, proving his worth to the Rochdale squad.
EAGLES: Corey Makelim, Ryan Millar, James Bentley, Matty Costello, Ben Blackmore, Cory Aston, Simon Brown, Shaun Pick, Gregory Burns, Matty James, Jack Ashworth, Joshua Toole, Matty Fozard. Subs: Kieran Moran, Mark Offerdahl, Oliver Davies, Jonathan Magrin.
Tries: Millar (4), Burns (15), Makelim (28), James (35), Ashworth (46), Fozard (71), Toole (78) Goals: Brown 3/4, Fozard 2/3