WE may have had the first frosts of the autumn but there was nothing sub-zero about another bountiful harvest of points that took the Vale of Lune to the top of the table.
The second seven-try haul of the season, plus the all-important bonus point, took the Vale one point ahead of rivals Sale FC in North One West.
In perfect playing conditions the Vale displayed sharpness and artistic invention that had their supporters wildly applauding their efforts.
Although Rochdale were always chasing the game their heads never dropped and for a period during the second half they appeared on course to chew into the Vale’s lead, but the Vale’s defence stood firm to add two more converted tries.
The Vale were in perfect pitch straight from the kick off. Jimmy Moore was just beaten to the touch down in a chase in the dead ball area, Darren Wilson was darting hither an dither and after a prolonged period of softening up Rochdale, the line was breached in the 13th minute.
Moore calmly intercepted the ball to break on the right, the supporting Sam Wallbank had tracked the move and scored wide out, Moore converting from a difficult angle.
Four minutes later the Vale pack combined as a powerful unit to drive Rochdale backwards to allow Danny Lin to poach an unconverted try.
Just before the mid-way point James Hodder came racing from deep, Moore directed a stealth pass to Olly Cowey who completed the move with an unconverted try wide on the left.
Rochdale girded up their loins after being subjected to fierce examination and they opened the scoring with a penalty goal in the 24th minute from stand-off Alan Heath, but a penalty from Moore took any steam out of a prolonged Rochdale revival.
Heath was off target with a penalty before a second try from Lin brought up the bonus. Jordan Dorrington, who showed no ill effects from his clattering last week, linked with Wilson in a move that illustrated the Vale’s ingenuity, Moore converted with two minutes remaining.
The home side opened the second half with a stunning try.
A Rochdale kick made touch, the quick thinking Jordan Dorrington collected the ball and launched a long accurate pass to the middle of the pitch and the lurking Wilson and in the blink of an eye Hodder was touching down with 39 seconds on the watch, Moore converted.
The scoreboard suggested the Vale were cruising but they started to encounter choppy waters. It was not a case of manning the lifeboats but when Rochdale’s industrious flanker, Rob Hartley powered his way over for a try in the 44th minute, converted by Heath it was time to check if the derricks were greased.
Rochdale upped the ante in the red zone but the Vale retained a level of composure and diligence to keep the maroon marauders out. Eventually the siege was lifted with something as unsophisticated as an old fashioned boot downfield.
From a rock solid scrum on half way Wilson then ran to a 55th minute try converted by Moore.
Prior to Vale’s final try in the 76th minute Rochdale had again pressurised Vale’s line but the home side ended the contest with a try that was the result of growing self-assurance from centre Jonty Higgin in the build up.
He cruised nonchalantly past Rochdale players before turning up the wick with sublime change of pace and tossing in a dummy for good measure. Hodder roared up in support for his second try converted by Moore.
On Saturday the Vale travel to play third in the league Liverpool St Helens.
Vale of Lune: Hodder, Macluskie (Curran 40), Powers, Higgin, Dorrington, Moore, Wilson (capt), Hesketh, O Cowey, A Cowey (O‘Donnell 36), Acton, Wallbank, Garnett, Lin, Baines (Tudor 17)
Man of the Match: Garnett