Warrington Come Good In The End in Game of Fits and Starts
By David Jervis
Win Sealed with try from Andy Roberts
Rochdale 19 Warrington 46
Warrington eventually overwhelmed Rochdale, scoring eight tries in the process, but it took them fifty minutes before they managed to take a commanding lead. The Rochdale defence was rock-like, but the relentless tackling finally took its toll and the closing thirty minutes saw Warrington playing some of their best rugby of the season against tiring opposition. The win sees them maintain their eighth position in the league just one point below Stockport and Burnage, both of whom face stiff opposition in their final match of the season. Douglas are this week’s visitors to Walton Lea Road.
Virtually the first Warrington attack saw Tom Arnold halted just five yards out but the play was quickly switched across the field and Nathan Beesley used his pace to speed over in the corner. Almost immediately, a mazey run from Max Caldwell ended with an unfortunate knock-on and then Kieron Hughes and Tom Arnold combined superbly, only for the final off-load to be adjudged forward. Fortunately, Nathan Beesley once again demonstrated his electric pace to take Warrington into a 10-0 lead.
However, Rochdale soon demonstrated that, although already doomed to relegation this season, they are still a good side and they hit back when strong pressure and some admirable off-loading brought them a deserved try, which was converted. Warrington’s response was almost immediate when Kieron Hughes danced over, after good work from his forwards. Ben Hockenhull added the extras. Ten points ahead, Warrington seemed to be in control but over-elaboration in their own half saw Rochdale’s robust centre intercept and cross unopposed to allow a simple conversion and make the half time score 17-14.
Warrington opened the second half on the attack but sterling Rochdale defence saw them protect their try line for a brutal ten minutes. Eventually, the resistance cracked and Steve Pilkington forced his way over and Ben Hockenhull converted to give Warrington a ten point lead. This was increased to 15 points from the restart when a brilliant break from Ben Hockenhull was finished off by Tom Arnold. But Rochdale were not finished and excellent off-loading saw them score a try in the corner. However, this was to be the last time they troubled the scoreboard. First, the much under-rated Sean Hughes snaffled Rochdale overthrow at a line-out and handed on to Tom Arnold who mad thirty yards before feeding Kieron Hughes who raced over. Ben Hockehull converted. Tom Arnold was very much involved in the next try when he handed onto Nathan Beesley after a scintillating midfield break and the speedy winger touched down to clam his hat-trick. The final try saw the first try of the season from Andy Roberts. The player/coach gave a snappy pass to Tom Arnold and then forced his aging legs to power him up-field where he was in position to take the final pass and flop over the line.
“This was a fits-and-starts game for us,” commented an excited Roberts. “We could have scored four more tries in the first half but all credit to Rochdale who were resolute in defence for long periods. However, when we clicked we played some excellent rugby and the final try was a peach.”