Rochdale ease to victory

Rochdale 38 Barrow 10
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The Independent Online

Rochdale's Hornets have timed their run into the top four of the Northern Ford Premiership nicely for the play-offs, even if there was not always much of the inspiration that accounted for the leaders, Leigh, on Sunday in this performance.

Bafflingly, Rochdale last night were far less convincing against modest opposition, taking most of the first half to assert themselves after Barrow had taken an early lead.

The Cumbrian side thoroughly deserved to be ahead, with their combative loose-forward, Brett McDermott, the object of interest from Super League clubs, setting up a try for Glen Hutton and scoring one themselves.

Rochdale owed the two points that took them above Featherstone and into fourth place to a burst of activity on either side of half-time that showed why they have now won 13 of the last 14 games they have played.

Latham Tawhai's kick to the corner set up Sean Cooper for one converted try and Brendan O'Meara's effort saw them take the lead for the first time before the break.

Tawhai's kicking caused trouble again in the second half, Dave Watson retrieving the ball for Cooper to claim his second try of the evening, before James Bunyan charged over to make the points safe.

Cooper was denied a hat-trick of tries by being tackled into the corner flag, but he later triggered a strong finish by turning the ball inside, allowing Wayne McHugh the opportunity to touch down.

Darren Robinson went through unhindered as Barrow faded badly and Hornets' leading scorer, Marlon Billy, rounded off a clear-cut, but curiously anti-climactic, victory.

If they are saving their best for Leigh, they are likely to get their chance again in the first round of the play-offs.

Rochdale: Owen; Cooper, O'Meara, McHugh, Billy; Wood, Tawhai; Scuthorpe, Robinson, Ireland, Rogers, Bunyan, Watson, Substitutes used: Gartland, Berry, Knowles, Bunce.

Barrow: Sharp; Hutton, Magorian, Gardner, Riabor; Massey, Holt; Whitter, Murray, Rawlinson, Luxon, Whitehead, McDermott. Substitutes used: Marshall, Burns, Jackson, Liku.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).