Rochdale 34 North Wales 6
For both sides this was a crucial game with an automatic promotion place in sight, and it was the Rochdale Hornets that showed they have the better chance of securing that final place.by NRL
For both sides this was a crucial game with an automatic promotion place in sight, and it was the Rochdale Hornets that showed they have the better chance of securing that final place.
The importance of this game, along with the disciplinary problems in the reverse fixture - which saw Morrison sent off for Crusaders, and Middlehurst receiving the same treatment for his offences - made for a real physical, feisty encounter.
This was the case from the first whistle, and referee Clint Sharrad had words with both captains within the first ten minutes for dangerous tackles. Both sides couldn't get off the mark in that period, with the opening stages turning out to be an arm wrestle.
Rochdale did open the scoring after 15 minutes though, a Leather break down the left flank providing the field position. The winger was held short by the covering Crusaders defence, but Bloomfield went over in the next play.
And the momentum continued in the favour of the hosts, Bloomfield grabbing his second in the corner following another move involving nice ball handling.
The Welsh side did manage to find a reply though, and it came against the run of play. Billy Sheen took a gamble on half way and interecpted Paul Crook's pass to race in underneath the posts.
They almost took the lead too, Jamie Clarke making a break down the left, and he had fantastic support. Moulsdale was to the right and Massam was to the left, but his pass fell to ground, and to his disappointment, in touch.
Middlehurst was clearly the target for the visitors, but he started the fantastic move that restored the 10-point lead for the Hornets.
The second-rower burst several tackles to come up with a line break, and scrum half Steven Roper was in support to finish off the move under the sticks.
The referee was quick to call forward passes, and Rochdale had three ruled out for that reason. However, he wasn't as quick to make calls on other offences, and this made for a game that was very slow around the ruck area.
This didn't stop the Hornets though, increasing their advantage through Wayne English - he dummied his way through a hole following a scrum near the Crusaders line.
Paul Crook kicked a penalty to take them three converted tries clear of the away side, and English added his second soon after, which put a more comfortable image on the game.
North Wales Crusaders tried their upmost to come up with a reply, but they couldn't come up with the extra spark to ignite an attack that would create the opening - and this was the story of the game, one in which the Crusaders never got going.
Rochdale did have a successful day though, and Jonny Leather finished off a move down the left flank for a win that gave a message to their promotion rivals - and that is not to rule them out.
Tries: Bloomfield 15, 19, Roper 33, English 51, 70, Leather 77
Goals: Crook 5/7
NORTH WALES CRUSADERS
Tries: Sheen 26
Goals: Johnson 1/1
Referee: Clint Sharrad
MOTM: Billy Sheen - took a gamble to bring Crusaders back into the game, which ultimately paid off, and from a defensive perspective he also tracked down several Rochdale attacks.
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