Report by Chris Park
Unbeaten Hornets came into this game as overwhelming favourites to continue their hugely impressive start to the League 1 campaign and make it nine games unbeaten to consolidate their three point lead at the top of the table with a victory over 13th places South Wales Scorpions.
In order to do so Alan Kilshaw made just a couple of changes to his side that comprehensively defeated Oxford last weekend. Wayne English returned to full back off last week’s bench with Chris Riley taking his usual spot on the wing and James Tilley came back into the pack with Alex Trumper moving into the second row. That meant there was no place for new recruit Jake Shoel and Jordan Case in the starting 13 who were both rested for today’s game. English and Warren Thompson would also lead the team out to mark their 150th and 100th appearances for the Hornets respectively.
Kilshaw also named three dual registration players on his bench with the inclusion of Dan Murray, Sam Wilde and Joe Philbin from Warrington Wolves.
Hornets got the first points on the board inside five minutes after a couple of errors by the visitors gave them a chance from 20 meters. Paul Crook sent a weighted grubber into the corner for Dale Bloomfield to pounce onto unchallenged but Crook couldn’t add the extras from the touchline. Four minutes later Ben Moores was held up over the line despite some supporters thinking he had grounded the ball.
Good pressure and defence from Hornets saw South Wales struggle to get out of their own 30 for much of the first 15 minutes and a mistake by Paul Emanuelli kicking out on the full meant Rochdale enjoyed another set of six which was duly finished off by a cool finish from opposite winger Riley off Danny Yates’ lobbed kick to the left corner. Unfortunately Crook must have left his shooting boots in the changing rooms as he missed his second kick.
It wasn’t long before Hornets had their third try when Jono Smith barged his way over on the last tackle and give his side a 12-0 lead with a more comfortable kick for Crook which, incredibly, he missed again.
Bloomfield was denied by a forward pass on 24 minutes following a penalty on Yates for obstruction and the ball was passed out wide for the winger to dive in at the corner to no avail.
However, the Scorpions did get on the score-sheet 15 minutes before the break when Sion Jones dived over to reduce the deficit which Emanuelli added too to show Crook how it’s done.
But Rochdale replied instantly with a second try for Smith who slid over as he was tackled to give Hornets their fourth try of the afternoon. Yet again, Crook couldn’t convert and the score remained 16-6. But he got a chance to make amends almost immediately when duel registration substitute Philbin made it five tries to one with a score under the posts which Crook was finally able to add to much to the ironic cheers of the home crowd.
The home side were well and truly in their grove at this point as some excellent handling and passing resulted in Sam Wilde going over for the Hornets’ sixth try of the afternoon and Crook was able to convert from the touch line for a 28-6 lead.
And they was still time for another before the break as Danny Yates was the first of four Rochdale players to dive on a kick through by Bloomfield which Crook was able to add too for his third in seven attempts.
Rochdale were looking for a fast start to the second half and within two minutes Dan Murray dropped the ball over the line to give Scorpions the handover 20 meters out. An eventual forward pass inside Hornets’ 40 fizzled out any further attach from the visitors at that point.
It took until the 13th minute of the half for the Hornets to register their next try. Crook was the recipient from Yates’ short pass and he had a free run to score under the sticks. He then had no trouble dispatching the extras for a 40-6 lead.
Hornets were in again for English to mark his century and a half of appearances for the club with a try of his own, pouncing inside the in-goal area to ground the loose ball. Crook’s fifth conversion gave the hosts a 40 point cushion with 25 minutes remaining.
The floodgates had well and truly opened again at this point as this time Riley got in on the act scoring his second of the match selling a dummy to Scorpions’ winger Ian Newbury to sail over in the left corner.
Bloomfield grabbed his second as the final quarter began when Sam Wilde offloaded to allow the winger to race in to make it 54-6. Smith took over the kicking duties much to the amusement of the home crowd and, unsurprisingly, it sailed way wide of the posts from the near side touchline.
South Wales were able to weather the storm for a time as despite further pressure from the home side they were able to hold their line and hold up a couple of Rochdale drives over their line. That was until Crook jinxed his way through for Hornets’ 11th try of the game under the posts eight minutes from time. Crook successfully resuming the kicking duties for the scoreboard to reach 60 points.
Two minutes on and Bloomfield completed his hat-trick, and with it his 100th career try, going over in the corner under pressure from Scorpions defenders. That was closely followed by Yates’ second try who had time and space to race in under the posts after collecting Galbraith’s pass from Tilley’s initial break.
That concluded a dominating display by the Hornets who reasserted their place at the top of the League 1 table with this 70-6 victory ahead of the first of two weekends off in three next week. The Hornets are now unbeaten in their last ten league games – a run which stretches back to last September.
The next game is away to York City Knights on Sunday, 5 June 2016.
REF: T Hudson
MOM: Dale Bloomfield
SCORE: 5) 4-0 (Bloomfield try, Crook missed goal)
15) 8-0 (Riley try, Crook missed goal)
20) 12-0 (Smith try, Crook missed goal)
25) 12-6 (Jones try, Emanuelli goal)
28) 16-6 (Smith try, Crook missed goal)
31) 22-6 (Philbin try, Crook goal)
35) 28-6 (Wilde try, Crook goal)
37) 34-6 (Yates try, Crook goal)
53) 40-6 (Crook try, Crook goal)
55) 46-6 (English try, Crook goal)
58) 50-6 (Riley try, Crook missed goal)
61) 54-6 (Bloomfield try, Smith missed goal)
72) 60-6 (Crook try, Crook goal)
76) 64-6 (Bloomfield try, Crook missed goal)
78) 70-6 (Yates try, Crook goal)