Blackburn 22 – Rochdale 20
By David Scott
Blackburn achieve Promotion / Cup Double (by a whisker!)
A fantastic unbelievable season came to a close in a hard-fought John Burgess Lancashire Cup victory away to Rochdale Rufc.
Burn were pushed all the way and, but for an unconverted Rochdale try 7 mins beyond the 85 played, extra time of 20 mins awaited. Relief was immense with winning this prestigious trophy the ultimate prize capping a wonderful season for DOR Dino and his charges.
The bedrock of this game though lay in an awesome defensive display against a team playing the territory game to its fullest and belying their Lancs/Cheshire level 7 league status.
Rochdale started the brighter forcing Burn into uncharacteristic errors – knock ons and wrong options. Perhaps they could and should have taken the lead as on 5 mins a simple penalty attempt was missed. But on 10 mins a Burn defensive error fell to ground, Rochdale winger hacked through and looked to have won the footrace into in goal, however the ref spotted a push on a Burn player much to their relief.
On 19 mins though Burn had the lead following their first foray into Rochdale’s 22. Rochdale had kicked deep to Frankie Nickson, he set off on a mazy run finishing 20 m from Rochdale’s line right in front of the posts. Rochdale transgressed at the ensuing ruck and rather than the simple 3 points Burn elected to scrum, drove it forward and with the scrum starting to disintegrate, Sam Gale picked up from the base and went left setting up a ruck, wrecking ball Corey Logan was on hand driving for the line, stopped just short before neatly handing to his second row counterpart Nathan Sewell who spotted the gap in the defence to swan dive over the white wash. Alex Taylorson failing to add the extras.
At the restart Burn failed to gather causing a lineout 15 m out. There followed a frantic next 15 mins of Rochdale pressure. Firstly, the giant no4 lock had the line at his mercy after a 20-metre line break but failed to find support players. Burn gave away a penalty and Rochdale elected this time to kick for the corner. Finding themselves within 7 metres of the Burn line they caught at 4, neatly transferred possession to the back of the line creating an ominous driving maul with only some superb rear guard action from Burns pack keeping them out – twice in fact as from another penalty Rochdale attempted to recreate the same well rehearsed ploy but found Burn more than equal to the task. The ref pinged for holding on the ground allowing Burn to clear their lines.
Shortly after more misery for Rochdale as the ref had seen one too many high “seatbelt” tackles and invited the no5 to take a 10 min rest. Burn had pressure now, a barnstorming run from Scott Richardson took Burn into the Rochdale 22. A scrum to Burn followed, almost recreating the earlier try but agonisingly, George Skofic juggled the pill within spit of the try line.
Burns faithful didn’t have long to wait for their second try. A Marc Maher exocet kick to the corner just failed to reach its target. Rochdale attempted to return the kick only to find the Scott Richardson bread basket, his direct run from 30 metres out scored the try without a glove laid on him. Alex Taylorson improved the try and Burn closed the first half a surprising 12-0 to the good.
The second half saw more Rochdale pressure with 3 pens in succession. From the latter Rochdale made touch within 6 metres of the try line. This time off the top ball created a fluid move, just a couple of phases and the winger squeezed into the corner. Try unconverted but Rochdale now had their tails up. Shortly after a high tackle from Sam Gale 30 metres out right in front and this time there was no mistake with the penalty – game on 12-8.
There looked to be stern words in the Burn camp as they restarted, guns blazing. A superb angled break by Jamie Brookes with only full back to beat brought a very dodgy high tackle that went unpunished. Sam then went on a menacing mazy run, this time there was great support on his shoulder and Phil Baines dotted down in the corner. 17-8
2 more penalties conceded after the restart gave Rochdale field position with a lineout within sniffing distance of the try line. They moved the ball well and with the ref unsighted, his assistant ref confirmed try scored in the corner. A well struck conversion and its squeaky bum time 17-15.
Burn have shown all this season their fighting qualities and clinical finishing. Wave after wave of driving attacks from Corey, Wilf & Sam made Rochdale scurry in defensive mode. A quick pen tap from Greg illegally stopped resulted in a yellow for the Rochdale miscreant. Burn elected to scrum within 10 metres. The drive looked to be halted, Greg picked up, went blind and neatly found George Skofic on a clever inside angle, this time making no mistake. Conversion missed but a bit more breathing space at 22-15.
Back though came the Rochdale juggernaut creating 3 pens in succession close to Burns tryline, with only desperate resolute defending keeping them out. Tom Lavelle incurred the wrath of the ref taking one for the team by way of yellow card. Penalty kicks were of no use to Rochdale – tap and goes were the order as they made a relentless assault. Eventually moving the ball wide proved dividends as Burn ran out of bodies with Rochdale scoring 5metres from the corner flag.
A conversion would give us extra time – he’d scored earlier from the same position, but this time to the relief of the Burn faithful it fell agonisingly wide – cue euphoria as the ref blew for full time.
Blackburn Lancashire Cup champions making history – something tells us we’re into something good……..