Rams keep fighting spirit alive

Dewsbury 25 Rochdale Hornets 20
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Dewsbury might be unrecognisable from the side that won the Northern Ford Premiership two seasons ago, but they produced a performance of champions to end Rochdale's unbeaten record.

The odds were stacked against the Rams when they had to play into a howling gale in the second half, but they adapted their game with great intelligence and determination to earn the win.

Level at half time, Dewsbury went behind when one of their former players, Richard Agar, switched the ball for David Larder to score two minutes after the restart. The way they responded showed that there is still great spirit at the club, despite losing so many players.

Andy Speak, outstanding at hooker, sent Jim Leatham through for the first of his two tries and Jamie Elston, a 19-year-old scrum-half of great promise, threw a long pass to Adrian Flynn for another within two minutes. Flynn was closely marked but strength and footwork took him over. Even though Davide Longo missed both conversions – one of them a simple one – Dewsbury had a handy four-point lead.

Elston figured again in the build-up for Leatham's second try, but there was still time for the Hornets to sting. Matt Calland managed to twist his way over the line and Danny Wood's goal cut the lead to four points once more. Rochdale threw everything at them in the last 15 minutes, but Dewsbury's defence was magnificent and Elston's drop goal edged them further ahead.

Wood did get over the line with two minutes remaining, but lost the ball in the process to leave the Rams with their well-deserved points. "They played the conditions much better than we did," Martin Hall, the Rochdale coach, admitted.

He had seen his side lead through tries from Latham Tawhai and Paul Smith, before the Dewsbury player-coach, Andy Fisher, brought them level by half time while Rochdale were down to 12 men, with Larder in the sin bin.

"We defended really well in the second half," Fisher said. "That's what's getting us through at the moment."

Dewsbury: Batty; Mack, Chapman, Kitching, Flynn; Longo, Elston; Watene, Speak, Wileman, Fella, Hicks, Slater. Substitutes used: Redfern, Parker, Leatham, Fisher.

Rochdale Hornets: Owen; Cooper, Wood, Calland, Billy; Agar, Tawhai; Davidson, Pachniuk, Stephenson, Smith, Larder, Ball. Substitutes used: Ayres, Berry, Bunyan, Long.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).