New look Hornets off to a flyer
Hornets 66 - Rochdale & District XIII 0
Early trial games are more about what you learn than the result, but there's no ignoring this convincing performance from Ian Talbot's squad.
But don't be misled that this was a mere Sunday afternoon stroll in the snow. With much of the new Hornets intake given valuable game-time, the Town team provided some stubborn resistance, led by Rochdale's own perennial rugby warrior Chris Hough.
Whilst the cream of the district's amateurs competed well on a macro level, it was in the detail where Hornets' class and craft proved too great a hurdle to surmount. With frequent substitutions and positional changes, it was often difficult to keep tabs on the ever-changing cast of new faces, but it was the core of familiar players who took Hornets around the park with confidence and go-forward aplenty.
Wayne English turned in a performance of grit and poise - catching the eye of the St helens contingent in the crowd near me; John Cookson was explosive with and without the ball and Paul Crook oozed quality, collecting a personal tally of 30 points with two tries and eleven conversions from eleven attempts. Oh, and he chucked in a trademark 40-20 for good measure. Keep an eye on Danny Davies too - he looks sharper, stronger and more switched-on than last season.
Former Swinton Hooker Alex McClurg also laid down a marker for a starting shirt, with an industrious performance.
In fact it was McClurg who opened the scoring, burrowing in after a couple of minutes. And with a new look front-row - completed by ex Saints, Batley and Widnes prop Gareth Frodsham - in full flow, Hornets played much of the first half camped in the Town Team's half.
Tries followed at regular intervals from Frodsham, Crook and ex-Swinton and York winger Dave Sutton
Hornets went in at the break 36-nil to the good after a slimline Michael Ratu opened his Hornets account.
With changes, like the snow, coming thick and fast the second half was more of a disjointed affair, but tries from Ste Roper, Gaz Langley, Frodsham, Davies and McClurg kept the sizeable crowd entertained - and encouraged that we might expect good things this season.
Rochdale Hornets Squad