Rochdale Hornets returned to winning ways with a high scoring victory over neighbours Oldham.
The second game of the day at Bloomfield Road was a fractious affair between two derby rivals with feelings never far from the surface. Oldham established a good lead only to be chased down by Rochdale who were worthy winners in the end.
Oldham opened scoring in the eighth minute when a smart grubber kick was pounced upon by Scott Turner on the left. The ground fell silent for Scott Leatherbarrow to kick the Roughyeds to a 6-0 lead.
From the restart Adam Clay knocked on inside his own in-goal area and from the drop out Daniel Yates slipped the defence before losing his footing.
A couple of plays later Hornets stung their local rivals with a big switch down the right and former Halifax centre Jake Eccleston slipped the ball out for Miles Greenwood to score in the corner, a decision verified by video referee Ben Thaler. Yates missed the conversion but it was now 6-4 after ten minutes.
George Tyson ran the ball strongly for Oldham but was injured and from the resulting penalty Oldham lay the foundation for another raid at the line.
It was then the game was abruptly halted as the sides traded blows and both Jovilisi Taira (Hornets) and Richard Lepori (Oldham) were sin-binned. Oldham received the penalty and Leatherbarrow kicked his side to an 8-4 lead after 14 minutes.
As Oldham moved forward again, Rochdale conceded a third penalty in quick succession but Leatherbarrow skewed his kick wide.
Eccleston proved the undoing of the Oldham defence moments later, finishing Lewis Palfrey’s pass. Yates missed the conversion attempt but the game was level after twenty minutes at 8-all.
Oldham then scored one of the strangest tries seen at Blackpool when Danny Langtree chipped through, Hornets failed to kick the ball out, Kenny Hughes missed the ball and George Tyson grounded. Leatherbarrow added his third goal after 24 minutes and Oldham led 14-8.
Yates tried to inspire his team with a chip through the line, but Rochdale again conceded a penalty to allow their neighbours off the hook.
Jack Spencer broke through the line for the Roughyeds and Lepori’s support for the try was his first involvement after returning from the sin-bin.
Leatherbarrow converted and with thirteen minutes remaining of the half Oldham led 20-8.
Into the final ten minutes of the first half an enterprising play from Hornets stretched the defence but Eccleston’s kick went dead. Oldham responded in the best possible manner when Danny Langtree split the line and Lepori raced over in support for his second try. Leatherbarrow’s fifth goal made it 26-8.
Hornets offered hopes of a comeback before the break when Palfrey held the ball long enough for Eccleston to speed through a gap and it was 26-12.
The wide open nature of the game continued with half-breaks from both sides aplenty, but somehow it remained 26-12 at half-time.
Early in the second half Oldham forced a drop out and won a further penalty that was dispatched by Leatherbarrow to make it 28-12. Rochdale still wouldn’t be shaken off and scored after eight minutes of the second half when Lewis Galbraith laid on a pass for Wales international Rob Massam. Lewis Palfrey couldn’t convert but it was 28-16.
Ben Moores dragged Rochdale back into the contest with a dummy-half scoot and Yates goaled to close the deficit to six points.
Momentum had certainly swung in favour of Hornets and Jordan Case claimed another try from Lewis Palfrey’s kick. Yates converted to tie the match at 28-28 with 23 minutes to play.
Oldham threw themselves forward, winning another set of six due to a charge-down but an error from Leatherbarrow saw the ball land in the arms of Lewis Galbraith and he charged through to score from seventy five metres.
That was given on advice of the video referee, converted by Yates who then added a penalty from in front for a rare eight point try after 61 minutes to make it 36-28.
With 15 minutes remaining and Rochdale on attack, a late tackle on Yates was penalised and the hal-fback goaled to increase the Hornets lead to ten points. Oldham were also put on a team warning
Ten minutes from the end Ryan Maneely almost wriggled over for another Rochdale try but Oldham held firm. A clever kick by Gareth Owen almost led to a try by Scott Turner at the other end but a high tackle prevented him.
The Roughyeds laid siege to the line and a short skirmish brought a further couple of penalties and a team warning for Rochdale.
The game erupted again in the final minute. Sam Gee was dismissed for Oldham while Yates was sin-binned for Rochdale. It mattered not to the final result with Hornets recovering from their slump to win 38-28.
Oldham: Richard Lepori, Adam Clay, George Tyson, Sam Wood, Scott Turner; Scott Leatherbarrow, Gareth Owen; Nathan Mason, Kenny Hughes, Adam Neal, Luke Adamson, Danny Langtree, Jack Spencer. Subs: Sam Gee, Liam Thompson, Joe Burke, Michael Ward.
Rochdale Hornets: Chris Riley, Miles Greenwood, Jake Eccleston, Lewis Galbraith, Robert Massam; Lewis Palfrey, Daniel Yates; Jovilsi Taira, Ryan Maneely, Gavin Bennion, Jono Smith, Josh Crowley, Gary Middlehurst. Subs: Ben Moores, Lee Mitchell, Matthew Hadden, Jordan Case.
Referee: L. Moore.
Photo courtesy of Richard Long