BOWDON first XV beat Rochdale 22-20 to keep the pressure on Lancs/Cheshire Division One leaders Altrincham Kersal.

From the outset both sides drove at each other, forcing strong up-front tackling.

The Rochdale forwards showed great purpose and desire as they tested their opposition, but Bowdon struck first five minutes in when the forwards combined to release back-row Josh Bowland who outstripped the covering defence to score near the posts.

This lead was further increased on 20 minutes when scrum-half James Dennis chose to break and go it alone from the scrum 10 metres out.

Rochdale were not out of the game, though, and began to dominate in the set scrum.

The erosion of the Bowdon scrum was becoming a feature of the match and Rochdale were awarded a series of penalties near the line and their decision to scrum paid off as they reduced the arrears to 12-5 with 29 minutes played.

As the half drew to a close, Rochdale’s lock Sean Needham drifted out toward the left wing unnoticed. He crossed halfway at pace with a man outside and Bowdon's defence opened to make it 12-10 at half time.

Bowdon started the second half full of good intent, but Rochdale were full of fire as they quickly took the lead six minutes in, scoring a try and conversion.

Bowdon made changes as the bench came into play and lifted the tempo of the game.

They regained the lead through prop Craig Anthony as he powered over to score.

With hooker Sean Hughes off with a rib injury Lewis Kitchiner took over the middle spot but an injury to his neck and shoulder meant that scrums became uncontested.

This seesaw game took a further twist when Bowdon’s poor discipline led to a penalty to Rochdale which gave them a slender 20-19 lead.

With both sides vying hard for the win, Bowdon’s man-of-the-match, Harry Martin, was heavily involved with his terrier-like ball-winning skills proving vital throughout the contest.

Bowdon took the lead from a penalty by Will Nicholson and despite having two further penalties awarded, Rochdale were unable to respond.