With the season drawing ever closer, Rochdale become the latest side to feature in the ‘Who Are Ya?’ series.
ROCHDALE HORNETS 2014:
Final Position: 12th in Championship (Relegated)
Challenge Cup: 4th Round (Lost v Leigh Centurions)
Top Tryscorer: Gareth Langley (12)
Top Pointscorer: Paul Crook (209)
Biggest Win: 76-4 v University of Gloucestershire All Golds (H, 16/3/14)
Heaviest Defeat: 22-72 v Leigh Centurions (H, 27/7/14)
Despite defeating arch rivals Oldham Roughyeds in the Championship One Final the previous October, Rochdale made an immediate return to the third tier after just a year at Championship level.
After the opening game away at Sheffield was postponed due to waterlogging at the Eagles Owlerton Stadium, the Hornets opened the campaign with back to back home fixtures against Dewsbury and the Cougars and lost both despite leading at the interval.
March brought the clubs first win off the 2014 season when they narrowly defeated the Batley Bulldogs 14-10 at Spotland which was followed by an agonising twelve point defeat to Leigh despite leading for most of the game.
In the Challenge Cup, Ian Talbot’s outfit thrashed the Gloucestershire All Golds of Championship One (76-4) in the Third Round before facing Leigh at home in Round Four, this time losing by a single try just a week after the heart breaking league defeat at Leigh Sports Village.
Following the Centurions games, Rochdale won three in a row in the Championship with home wins over Whitehaven and Swinton coming either side of Easter’s away triumph at the North Wales Crusaders.
The side would have to wait until July until there next three points when after stunning Featherstone (38-34) at Spotland, they would pick up another home win the week after with a comprehensive victory over the Barrow Raiders.
With a thrashing by Leigh all but condemning the side to relegation, they scraped past fellow promoted side and relegation rivals North Wales (30-28) to keep any glimmer of hope faintly flickering heading into the run in.
But despite pushing Dewsbury and Doncaster all the way in the following two games to no avail, a 48-0 midweek thrashing away at the Sheffield Eagles confirmed the Hornets relegation back into Kingstone Press League One.
1 – Wayne English; 2 – Gareth Langley; 3 – Dave Llewellyn; 4 – Lee Paterson; 5 – Dave Bloomfield; 6 – Paul Crook; 7 – Danny Yates; 8 – John Cookson; 9 – Alex McClurg; 10 – Warren Thompson; 11 – Jordan Case; 12 – Alex Trumper; 13 – Tony Suffolk; 14 – James Tilley; 15 – Lewis Sheridan; 16 – Liam Gilchrist; 17 – Sam Brooks; 18 – Dean Mignacca; 19 – Danny Bridge; 20 – Brad Hargreaves; 21 – Ryan Smith; 22 – Mike Ratu; 23 – James Dandy; 24 – Dave Hull; 25 – Steve Marsh; 26 – Dave Sutton; 27 – Chris Tyrer; 28 – Matty Hadden; 29 – Jack Francis; 30 – Danny Davies
The Hornets pulled off possibly the division’s biggest off season signing with Ireland international Danny Bridge arriving from the Warrington Wolves.
Bridge isn’t the only Irish international arriving at Spotland with Oxford RL’s Matty Hadden and Wigan St Patricks winger Brad Hargreaves.
Hargreaves St Patricks teammate Ryan Smith has joined with years of experience in Lee Paterson arriving from the Batley Bulldogs.
Paterson isn’t the only former Hornet to return with Oldham’s Dave Bloomfield, St Helens James Tilley and Danny Yates joining from the London Skolars. The club’s other half back recruit aside from Yates is Australian Dean Mignacca from the Wentworthville Magpies.
The other new signings by Rochdale are Halifax youngster Sam Brooks and Dave Sutton from the Thatto Heath Crusaders and Jack Francis from Saddleworth Rangers arriving from the amateur scene.
Departures have been at a minimum at Spotland with Ryan Millard heading to Australia after initally agreeing to sign with the Featherstone Rovers.
Chris Baines has retired due to work commitments with Ryan King, Sean Casey, Adam Bowman and Joe Bate being released.
Ian Talbot is now into his third season in charge at Spotland following his arrival from St Helens.
Ian was a coach in the Saints youth setup during the noughties and brought through a number of youngsters including many of the current Hornets squad.
The Hornets have been sharing Spotland with Rochdale football club since the late 1980’s.
The ground has four stands: the Co-Operative Stand (or Main Stand), the Thwaites Beer Stand (the Sandy Lane End), the T.D.S Stand (Pearl Street end) and the Westrose Leisure Stand (the Willbutts Lane Stand). All are fully seated, apart from the Sandy Lane End, which is a small terrace behind one of the goals.
CHANCES FOR 2015:
Despite the exciting attacking threat posed by the Hornets youthful squad, I can’t help but feel there season lays with two men.
Danny Bridge and Lee Paterson are big signings for this level and if they fail to perform and/or pick up injuries then the Hornets could end up a downer.
JOSHUA CHAPMAN PREDICTS: 4th
FIXTURES AGAINST THE COUGARS:
Sunday 21st June – Keighley Cougars v Rochdale Hornets – 3pm – Kingstone Press League One
Sunday 23rd August – Rochdale Hornets v Keighley Cougars – 3pm – Kingstone Press League One