Vale of Lune 54-17 Rochdale

Fergus Owens at speed.
Fergus Owens at speed.

Vale of Lune returned to their base at Powderhouse Lane for their first game on home soil since February 18 on Saturday, beating Rochdale 54-17 in what was their highest points total of the season so far.

In the opening minutes Rochdale rattled and rolled their way into Vale territory but in the fourth minute the Vale struck when Fergus Owens drifted through the visitor’s defence following some precise accurate passing from Jack Turton and Olly Jacques for a converted try.

Four minutes later the quality of Vale’s passing resulted in Owens slipping through almost unnoticed for his second which again was converted.

Winger Chris Ramwell, who had been moved from his usual position at full back, showed electrifying pace with a 60 metre slalom after he had gathered the ball deep in his own half.

As the run gathered momentum he drew in defenders and with Harry Fellows on his shoulder he unselfishly popped a pass to the lock forward for another converted try in the 12th minute.

Holding a comfortable lead 21-0, the Vale were in complete control, stand-off Jack Turton pulled all the strings, the Vale were full of invention but Rochdale made them work hard with the result that the Vale had to wait until the 30th minute for their final score of the half.

Sam Wallbank scored a typical try, soloing his way over from 35 metres out, initially brushing off tacklers 
before finding himself all alone in the wide open spaces and the try line beckoning, again Damon Hall converted.

Four minutes into the second half the Vale added to their total and when Jacques charged down a kick, he was the first to react to score a try on the right which Hall converted from a difficult angle.

A minute later Wallbank boldly strode through for his second after Turton had somehow threaded a pass to him through a maze of Rochdale defenders, the conversion was a formality.

From the Vale’s perspective their game lost its impetus and while they trod water a kick and chase from Rochdale led to their undoing and they conceded a try when winger Jordan Reynolds poached one from under their noses in the 50th minute.

Frustrations levels in the technical area rose in the 57th minute when Rochdale scored again – left winger, Richard West picked his way through a wobbly Vale defence for a second unconverted try.

Owens pulled the Vale into calmer waters with his hat-trick in the 64th minute following a powerful break from Hall and some excellent passing at speed, Hall added the conversion from in front.

Rochdale still posed a threat down their right flank but Vale’s final score in the 76th minute brought up the half century for the first time this season.

Hooker Andy Powers made a dancing break, replacement Dan Rainford piled in, but it was another replacement, Fraser Spavin, who purloined the ball for a try that was one very much for the forwards to savour, Hall was off target for the only time in the game with his conversion.

There was still enough time for one final hurrah from Rochdale with a converted try in the 78th minute as a static Vale defence failed to spot a dart from scrum half James but he stumbled with the line in his sights.

The visitors did not give up; the ball was quickly recycled for lock Gee DeSusa to go galloping between the uprights, his try being converted by James Duffy.

*Vale thirds eased their predicament near the bottom of County Couriers Division Two North with a 61-14 against Littleborough 2 while the fourths lost 36-17 away at Rossendale 3.