This was the first game back for the now U13’s, with some new rules and full-sized pitch against a Broughton Park team who were something of an unknown opponent. With the Mayfield, Lancashire cup final on the same day the Rochdale team were missing some players; but with 15 making the trip to South Manchester, the lads were looking forward to getting stuck into their first friendly of the season.
Within the first fifteen minutes it was apparent that the Broughton Park team were a little out of their depth, a relatively new team they couldn’t contain the speed and footwork of the Rochdale strike runners, especially with the increased room outside, the Rochdale lads either blasted through the defensive line or worked to the outside beating the Broughton defense down the wings. At the first water break Rochdale were up 30 points to 0 with Luke, Dylan, Will, Gavin and Louis all scoring through a combination of turnover ball, fast hands and looking for space.
After the first break, a couple of the Rochdale lads took it in turns and swapped sides to bolster the Broughton Park team, giving a lift to the home side; once Dylan had got another couple taking the score to 40-0, the Broughton Park team seemed to get their second wind, with Rochdale dropping in intensity and tackling completion the Manchester team got right back in the game scoring their first try of the match.
Darren, admirably putting in a shift for Broughton started to cause havoc in attack and defense with both him and Will scoring either side of two Broughton Park try’s, in this period Broughton had actually out scored us 5-4 until the lads switched back on and attacked the line again adding three more unanswered try’s in the last 10 minutes.
There were a lot of positives to take out of this game with a number of stand out performances, Joe Kershaw, as today’s Captain, lead by example and at times the forwards were all working as one and dominating possession giving the backs fast clean ball to work with. Dylan playing like a number 8 and getting over the gain line, fast ball from Gavin snipping around the rucks to Luke playing 10 gave the back line space and momentum, with Evan, Will and Louie all making metres off this central spine.
Fitness is going to be a key factor this year but that should improve dramatically as the season goes on, tackle completion seemed to lurch between brilliant to non-existent, when we play the best teams in the North West we are going to have to make a real improvement in this area as our attack may not have the freedom or ease of breaking their defensive line unlike today.
Well done to Louie Norbury and Zander playing their first games back after a period of absence away from the game. Roll on next week.