ROSSENDALE made sure they ended the year on a high to keep their promotion charge bang on course.
Having seen last weekend’s clash against West Hartlepool fall foul of the weather, Dale were still smarting from defeat suffered against Beverley the previous week.
But they showed their promotion credentials with victory in one of the toughest away fixtures of the season.
Dale were well beaten in the corresponding game last season but they came out fighting.
Their enthusiasm and energy was matched by the willingness to attack from any area of the pitch from the home side Sandal.
Within minutes, a penalty conceded in front of Dale’s sticks gave first blood to Sandal with a sweetly struck kick from the tee.
But Rossendale’s reply was clinical and direct. A powerful line break from prop Leighton Taylor put the Valley side on the front foot, followed by a surge from Tim Fourie before Johan Goosen drove over the line for the first try of the game.
Fly half Stephen Nutt added the extras to put Dale 7-3 up.
The away side were now in the ascendancy and contin-ued to threaten the Sandal line and eventually crossed for a second try – thanks to a trademark pick-and-go from Paddy Pole to extend Dale’s lead, although Nutt failed with his conversion attempt.
Dale dominated the closing stages of the half and crossed for a third try, Tim Fourie barging over after another Taylor was held up short.
Will Sharratt took over kicking duties and slotted over the extras to make it 19-3.
An energised Sandal side emerged from the half time team talk and immediately put the pressure on Dale.
Dale’s cause was not helped by the sin-binning of Danny Greenhalgh who was then joined by Danny Collins.
An inevitable try for the home side followed but Dale held firm as the home side resorted to a bit of the rough stuff as the game got scrappy.
Victory made it nine wins in the last 10 games and took Dale up to second place.