Try Fest at Cheshire Fest…
After the excitement and disappointment of the Stockport derby, followed by the disappointment at Vale of Lune, Manchester’s response was going to be important for the season ahead.
A similar match day squad started with obvious intent and were rewarded with an early try. A good crossfield kick by Richard McCartney found its way to Joe Houghton who was able to squeeze over in the corner to make it 7-0 after the referee recorded a successful conversion by Doug Day.
Manchester kept the pressure on in the visitors’ 22, a couple of forwards’ drives being resisted until Doug Day spotted a gap to touch down under the posts, converting his own try to 14-0 after quarter of an hour played.
Rochdale’s attacks were rare and an easy penalty was taken to get on the scoreboard at 14-3 although the penalty count was certainly in Manchester’s favour. A first try came when Manchester broke from defence but a wayward pass was intercepted for an easy trot in late in the half to close the gap to 14-10.
The narrow margin would have been a poor return for the territory but on the stroke of half time with Rochdale’s defence creaking, the forwards robbed the ball and Anthony TiaTia was fed for one of his easier tries to close the half at 21-10.
Day was on the scoreboard again thanks to a penalty that he took quickly which caught the defence napping, securing the bonus point and creating a healthier gap at 28-10 with half an hour to go.
Rochdale noticeably faded at this point and a rampaging Brian Ndlovu hit the line like a centre in disguise for a killer try under the posts, 35-10 and the game seemingly over. The visitors had excellent pace within their back line however, and when they chose to use it, had looked dangerous. On the hour mark, their speedy centres linked well to outpace their opposite numbers for what seemed only a defiant dry at 35-17.
This cued a flurry of scoring as a second interception try for Rochdale made things interesting with the gap down to 33-24 and, at the very least, a bonus point or two on the cards! Just a little relief was felt when a charitable intercept was returned, Zak Round being the beneficiary, so that the game looked secure again at 42-24 with fifteen minutes to play.
Manchester then proceeded to pit the game to bed, Dan Matthews chasing a Day chip through and scragging the defender for a five metre scrum. From that platform, the ball was worked wide to Rick Cross, making for a difficult but successful conversion (49-24).
Day’s next conversion was equally as difficult after Seb Lingwood backed himself along the right wing for a long run in and the floodgates had opened, especially when the conversion was good to make it 56-24.
The match finished with Manchester well on top, a Charlie Ding breaking to set up the field position, TiaTia drawing the defenders, and then slipping to Day to score and convert again to 63-24.
The reaction and performance of the team was impressive, a big win boosting confidence and putting the league campaign firmly back on track as Manchester showed once again what they are capable of.