Sunday, 25 January 2015

Reality Checked

Mayfield 6  Hornets 44

For those fans who believe in the myth of the Rugby League pyramid, this looked - on paper - like a potentially close encounter. Mayfield, newly promoted to the NCL premier league; Hornets, freshly relegated into RL's League; both teams sitting - ostensiby - one tier apart in the RFL's wonderful new structrure. But the reality of the situation depends, we guess, on your perspective.

Indeed, by the time Mayfield wing Rob Kershaw ran off a Matt Calland pass in the 68th minute to score off the home side's first clear break, a ring-rusty Hornets had clocked up a fairly rudimentary 38 points.

To be fair, Mayfield began the game with some robust defence. But when Danny Yates dinked a short kick into the corner after 7 minutes for Dale Bloomfield to touch down, to give Hornets a 4-nil lead, it was only a matter of time before more followed.

But the home side dug in:  the game plodding through a scrappy, shapeless period; the home fans lifted by a brace of Calland drives at Danny Yates (half his size and half his age). Both times Yates standing his ground.

On 17 minutes Hornets got over the line, but were pulled back to receive a penalty for being tackled without the ball. Quick hands to the right sent in Brad Hargreaves for a try by the flag. 8-nil.

Three minutes later a good Hornets chase off a long kick forced a drop-out and, from the ensuing possession a neat inside ball found Wayne English arriving at pace to score. Crooky now with his eye-in for 14-nill.

Then a quick-fire two tries in two minutes to effectively end the game as a contest. Firstly Dale Boomfield outpacing the defence to score off a beautifully lofted Ryan Smith kick; then some great ticka-tacka passing between Dale Bloomfield and Dean Mignacca up the same left channel created space for Deano to open his Hornets account. Crooky with both conversions and Hornets comfortable at 26 nil.

The half ended scrappily, Hornets on the wrong end of a rising tide of facial injuries: Alex Trumper removed with a broken jaw that requires immediate surgery.

The second half began with a big centre-field-bust by Dean Mignacca, ended by a crunching high tackle that saw him removed groggily. The nature of rolling substitutions gave the game a bit of a shapeless feel as both sides sought a bit rhythm - and the momentum was gifted to Hornets in the 50th minute when Mayfield's Sam Butterworth was shown a red card for swearing at a touch-judge.

Hornets response was immediate; Ryan Smith skating untouched through a retreating defence to score. Crooky the two, 32-nil.

On the hour Dave Hull was first to respond to a teasing cross-field kick, gathering to walk past his opposite number. This time Jordan Case with a somewhat unorthodox style to convert: 38- nil.

Kershaw's try after 68 minutes gave the 'field fans something constructive to cheer and give the home side a late fillip. But when Wayne English and Brad Hargreaves
combined to break up a rare attack in the 70th minute, it led to a rush of blood for the home side who blew their hard-won field position with a daft penalty.

Hornets went straight downfield where Danny Yates scooted in from 25 metres off a James Tilley break. Jordan case the two - and all done at 44-6.

Even as a first hit-out, this was a pretty good effort:  though it seemed that the locals  had genuinely imagined that the difference between the NCL and the lower reaches of the semi-pro game was much smaller.

Here at TLCRF80mins, we know that pre-season games serve a specific purpose of trying combinations, getting players up to speed and identifying areas for fine tuning. Indeed, some might suggest that the results are incidental.

A Mayfield supporter said to a Hornets fan next to me on the way out: "It must be nice to win one…". And yeah, he's right - always nice to win, whatever the circumstances. 

Here's to plenty more in 2015.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


It's often said that those who drink at the well shouldn't forget those who dug it. That's why TLCRF80mins is delighted to support the Hornets Heritage Festival that takes place in December - a fantastic prgramme of events that celebrates our club - and our game's rich history.

At the heart of the festival, Hornets have pulled off a major coup in attracting the Rugby League Cares 'Rugby League Heritage On Tour' Exhibition, which arrives at Spotland on 3rd December and runs until the 17th December. It's open daily from 10 am to 4pm and admission is FREE!

The exhibition tells the story of the game, its players and supporters and, most importantly, the communities that made our sport. In addition to historic memorabilia - including a player's shirt from the first-ever rugby league test match and the ball from the famous Odsal 1954 Challenge Cup final replay - the exhibition tells the story of the game's split from rugby union, the first World Cup, the banning of league in World War Two France and much more. 

To tie in with the exhibition's visit, Hornets are running two major heritage events

The Hornets Heritage Show & Tell Event
Sunday 7th December, 2pm, Spotland Stadium. Admission FREE.  Bar + Raffle

An indulgent afternoon for fans to share their special moments, memories - and memorabilia! Includes a Q&A with the Rugby League Cares ‘Heritage on Tour’ exhibition curator Victoria Dawson.

We all have one or two pieces of 'Rugby League Treasure' that are important to us. 

Whether it's programmes from extraordinary games, favourite Hornets players' shirts, badges from our travels or photographs of memorable days, we all have our own personal little piece of Rugby League History.

But why just leave it in a drawer? As part of the Hornets Heritage Festival - we'd love you to share your items with us at the Hornets Heritage Show & Tell event on Sunday 7th December at Spotland Stadium at 2pm.

Taking part is easy: just bring your favourite piece of Rugby League memorabilia and tell your fellow fans all about it: how you came by it - and why it means so much to you. It'll be a fun, friendly, informal afternoon of shameless indulgence in the things we love most about Rugby League.

And if you have more than one item you'd like to share, bring them all - the more the merrier!

The Rugby League Cares ‘Heritage on Tour’ exhibition will also be open during the afternoon and its curator, Rugby League Historian Victoria Dawson, will also be joining us to answer questions on items from the exhibition and the RL Archive. She will also be launching a new heritage concept for Rochdale that Hornets fans can get involved in.

Brothers in Arms - the 2014 Heroes of Hornets induction Dinner.
Thursday 11th December. 7.30pm. Spotland Stadium Admission £10

Join us for great food and to recognise those who have made a heroic contribution to Rochdale Hornets - past and present. 

Themed 'Brothers in Arms' to recognise the centenary of the start of the First World War, the second annual Heroes of Hornets induction will pay tribute those who have made a heroic contribution to the club throughout its history.

The Annual Heroes of Hornets presentation - themed this year around Brothers in Arms - recognises individuals past and present who have made a heroic contribution to the club throughout its history. And this year - to commemorate the centenary of the commencement of World War 1, Rochdale Hornets will will proudly honour the players who swapped their club's colours for regimental colours, and who represented their club, their town and their country with distinction.

By 1915, 24 Rochdale Hornets players had joined-up to fight - four of whom made the ultimate sacrifice: Club Captain and England International Walter Roman, Sergeant Twigg, Private T West and Private CJ Burton.  The club will also pay tribute to those at home who kept the spirit of the club alive, holding fundraisers to send footballs to our soldiers in France and continuing - against the odds - to field a team until December 1917.

We will also be inducting some more recent heroes on what promises to be an emotional evening. And, if that's not enough, Rugby League Historian Victoria Dawson will present a showing of rare, recently discovered, 1914 Rorke's Drift Australia & New Zealand Tour footage - where Hornets' own Walter Roman toured with England. We've seen this footage a couple of times now and it's absolutely spellbinding to see how our game looked at this key point in history.

An informal dinner will be followed by presentations to this year's inductees.

Rugby League Cares ‘Heritage on Tour’ exhibition will also be open during the evening.

For more information on events - and to book your tickets for the Heroes of Hornets evening, please contact Ryan at the club on 01706 648004.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Hornets to become the first Rugby League club in space.

To infinity and beyond...

NASA’s brand new Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. And the Mars Exploration Mission-1, scheduled for 2017, will be the first mission to integrate Orion as part of their new 'Space Launch System'.

The first flight test - Exploration Flight Test-1, will launch later this year, sending Orion 3,600 miles above Earth to test the spacecraft’s systems . After orbiting the Earth twice, Orion will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at 20,000 miles per hour, and splash down in the Pacific Ocean.

To commemorate the launch, NASA is inviting members of the public to sign up for 'boarding cards' to have their name carried into space on this, the very first Mars test-flight. 

As the Orion has been built for an inhospitable environment with no atmosphere - and we've all been to Whitebank -  it seemed ideal that Rochdale's pioneering Hornets should be the first Rugby League club in space, so we SIGNED UP

When Orion leaves the launch pad in December on that first step to exploring another planet, the name 'Rochdale Hornets' will go with it. Unlike other long away trips, it doesn't leave from the Flying Horse: it goes from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 37 in Florida on or around 4th December this year.

Ready for blast-off: Hornets' NASA 'Boarding Pass'.  A shorter trip than South Wales Scorpions...

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Triumph in Defeat

Hornets 16 - Sheffield 58

Forget the result of this game. Look instead at the bigger picture.

In ANY OTHER SEASON, finishing 3rd bottom would've secured Hornets' safety in the Championship. In ANY OTHER SEASON 3rd bottom would've been heralded as a massive achievement for a club of Hornets size and budget. in ANY OTHER SEASON, finishing 3rd bottom would've been a cause for celebration.

And, though the achievement is identical, in this single season Hornets find themselves planning for life back in Championship 1.

And, whilst this game did expose the difference of being given the opportunity to strengthen in the Championship and the almost impossibility of climbing a vertical learning curve for a one off shot at survival, Hornets acquitted themselves admirably. Indeed, they showed sufficient hints that an ability to carve open last year's Championship champions should serve them well against less capable opposition next term.

Hornets left the blocks like lightning to leave Sheffield reeling. The visitors coughed the kick-off and Hornets were direct and ruthless; Ryan Millard involved twice to slot Wayne English in by the flag: 4-nil.

Hornets had the Eagles on the back-foot immediately, but as Alex Clare ran through onto a finely balanced Paul Crook kick, referee Hewer was unmoved as he was tackled minus the ball as he reached to touch down. No matter. Just five minutes later Wayne Engliush seized on a fumbled Sheffield pass and set off on a mazy, pinballing run through the visitord defence. His glorious inside ball found Paul Crook in space, and the Ginger General  outpaced the cover to score a cracker from 40 metres. Equally lethal with the boot, he added the two to give Hornets a deserved 10-nil lead.

Sheffield got a lucky breal to give them a way back into the game. On 12 minutes an almost comedic forward pass went unseen by the officials and with Hornets defence unable to respond, Yere skated in for a try: 10-4

On 17 minutes Hornets produced a moment of sheer class. Paul Crook launching a huge kick direct from the back of a scrum; Wayne English in a footrace with his opposite number, who spilled the ball under pressure to give Hornets a great attacking position. Unfortunately, Lewis Sheridan spilled the ball on the first tackle; though all Sheffield had in response was five drives and a big aimless hoof downfield.

Hornets' response was crisp and direct: good approach-play to go close to the Eagles line, but Joe Greenwood unable to hang onto a short ball hit at speed with the line begging.

Off the hook, Sheffield marched straight back downfield where Laulu-Togagae popped up on the end of a bustling centre-field break to score the first of four tries.
Brambani the extras. 10-all and nowt in it.

Again Hornets came steaming back. Sheffield allowed the kick-off to roll dead, then shipped a penalty for offside under their own posts, but Hornets forced a wide pass and the chance was gone.

Sheffield capitalised, exploiting some slack defence to send Briggs in from distance for a bit of a soft one. Sheffield in front on the half-hour and a palpable momentum shift as, again, the visitors got lucky.

A last tackle Hornets dink fell into Sheffield hands and they launched a huge break - but Lewis Sheridan managed to get between centre and winger to prevent a certain try. From the resulting scrum Sheffield swept the ball swiftly right for Uaisele to score. Brambani hit the post from in front. Woops!

Shefield then hit Hornets with a quick-fire triple whammy. Firstly Turner in by the flag after some pretty ordinary tackling; then Laulu-Togagae exploiting a mis-shapen Hornets defence as Anthony Walker was carried from the field with a knee injury; then, right on the hooter, Hornets hit by a cruel sucker-punch as Laulu-Togagae scudded in by the flag. Half time a lop-sided 10-36.

Hornets began the second half as they had the first - playing high tempo football that had Sheffield going backwards. After just one minute Ryan Millard went close, but a hurried pass to the wing drifted into touch; then a great interchange of passes ending with a Crooky dink into the in-goal forced a Sheffield drop-out. 

The pressure told on 52 minutes when another solid approach set sent James Dandy through to wrestle his way over the line. Crooky the two: 16-36.

Hornets came again two minutes later, the ball moved wide only for Yere to knock the last pass to ground. Then Wayne English involved in action at both ends of the field within a minute: firstly his touchdown of a Crooky kick struck-off for a knock-on - then caught uncharacteristically in two minds in his own in-goal to concede a drop out. Frenetic stuff.

With the hour mark approaching Sheffield's cogs finally clicked and, as the injuries and patched-up Hornets bodies began to mount, the Eagles took full advantage.

On 67 minutes, archetypal 'big-lad' Stringer barrelled in off a short-ball from a yard; 69 mins, Yere stepping into space after a string of helpful penalties; 75mins Laulu-Togagae on the end of some tidy passing. Hornets now reeling at 16-54.

But Hornets kept going. On 77 minutes a huge Ryan Millard kick downfield out of the back of a scrum had Shaun Robinson dribbling soccer-style towards the posts - only for Turner to gather and lie on the ball as if shot - effecting a miracle recovery once his defence had regathered.

Again, on the hooter, Sheffield launched Yere on another marauding break, but as Wayne English lined him up for a trip into row D, he managed to slip the ball away to Laulu-Togagae to score at the death. Brambani the two for 16-58 - and Hornets left waiting for the Swinton score.

The news that the Lions had lost heavily to Whitehaven guaranteed Hornets that vital 3rd bottom place and the £15,000 RFL compensation payment that comes with it. I

More importantly let it be known that, in the 2014 season, Rochdale Hornets WERE NOT relegated on the field of play. In ANY OTHER SEASON, this would have been a triumph for all of those who have worked so hard to prove the naysayers wrong this year.

In any other season...