Both teams went into the game protecting 100 per cent records and that might have contributed to an error-strewn start as nerves seemed to take hold.
Chester's defence held strong under early Cobras pressure and a sweeping shift across field resulted in evergreen centre Damian Tierney breaking through a tackle and running in the game's opening score, although Aled Davies couldn't add the extra two points.
Rochdale responded well and tested the Gladiators resolve as errors and penalties continued to hand them the ball, but again the defence scrambled well.
And the visitors paid the price on 18 minutes when Tierney demonstrated his strength to touch down for his second of the game and Davies' conversion made the score 10-0.
As has been predicted, there wasn't much between the teams and the weight of possession gifted to the Cobras told before the break as Rochdale punched a hole in the defence to cut the lead to 10-4 at the turnaround.
Chester knew the importance of a good start to the second period and Ben Stelmaszek came to the fore, drifting across the pitch before bursting through a hole to score near the posts and Davies landed the extras for a 16-4 lead.
Rochdale began to wobble and the game looked to be getting away from them on 55 minutes when a succession of passes found Davies, who finished brilliantly in the corner to extend the advantage to 20-4.
However, a mistake from the restart gifted Cobras an attacking chance and the visitors grabbed it with both hands, powering over from close range to close to within 10 points.
And the game was in the balance when Rochdale scored again a few minutes later, exploiting some tired tackles to cross under the posts and the conversion made the score 20-16.
Chester might have folded but showed impressive grit to work themselves back into the game with Mark Kingsley dictating affairs from the base of the ruck against his former club.
Kingsley's pace out of dummy half had Cobras on the back foot and one such dart resulted in the final game of the try for Stelmaszek, who powered over the whitewash and Davies' conversion completed the scoring.
Chester now have a fortnight's break before a trip to Warrington to take on Rylands Sharks A.