Round two of the Challenge Cup pitted Championship One side Rochdale Hornets against the newly christened Midlands Hurricanes with a game from Spotland.
The home side were without their stars Rangi Chase and Fui Fui MoiMoi but did have seasoned professional Sean Penkywicz amongst their ranks. The sides finished seventh and eighth in Championship One last season just missing out on the play-offs.
It took eighteen minutes for Rochdale to take the lead when scrum half Lewis Sheridan found a gap to drop the shoulder and round the full back before shooting over under the sticks. Sheridan added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Five minutes later the Hornets were in again as Ben Calland took a pass wide to skirt outside the winger and ground one-handed in the corner. Sheridan was unable to convert from wide but Rochdale easing into control of the game.
On twenty-seven the Hurricanes defence opened again as Greg McNally went in wide right and this time Sheridan was able to add the extras for a 16-0. And it was all too easy on thirty-one as Coby Green again exploited poor Hurricanes defence to cross for the fourth unanswered try of the afternoon. Sheridan kicked his third goal for 22-0.
Rochdale´s Luke Fowdan was sin-binned on thirty-five minutes for an off the ball tackle and within two minutes Nathan Newbound scampered over the line from close to finally record the first competitive points for the newly named Midland Hurricanes. The conversion was added by Cen Hardcastle.
With seconds left on the clock Aidan Freeman found space wide left to sprint in from twenty metres after taking high ball. The winger rounded closer to the sticks to give Hardcastle an easier conversion, but the Hurricanes kicker was unable to add the extras.
Six minutes after the restart Rochdale settled their nerves with a try down the right-hand side, Cian Tyrer collecting a Sheridan grubber kick to the corner to score. Sheridan converted brilliantly from the touchline for 28-10, the Hornets back in control after their little blip at the end of the first half.
Following a Hurricanes interception breakaway hostilities broke out two metres from the Rochdale line and after throwing a punch in the tackle Joe Taira was shown a straight red card, the home side down to twelve for the remainder of the game.
Two minutes after the dismissal Hardcastle threw an outrageous dummy, bought by the entire Rochdale defence, allowing him to walk over for a simple try from ten metres. He converted his own try for 28-16.
But nerves were again settled on sixty-four with a long ball finding Dan Nixon on the overlap to go over in the corner. Sheridan slid the extras just wide of the uprights, the lead a big sixteen points with just over a quarter of an hour remaining.
The game was win in seventy-five when a big gap opened in front of Tom Ashton who took a short ball from the influential Sheridan to cross. Sheridan hit the upright with his kick but it was now a twenty point lead as the Hornets eased their way into the third round.
The Hornets were good value for the win with the Hurricanes sloppy defence having no answers for the questions that they were posed. Into the hat for the third round they will be hoping for a game against one of the top Championship sides.
Rochdale Hornets: McNally (T), Nixon (T), Calland (T), Ashton (T), Tyrer (T), Green, Sheridan (T, 4G), Killan, Penkywicz, Taira (SO on 59), Baker, Forster, Brearley. Subs: Davies-Aspey, Davies, Fowden (SB on 35), Roden.
Midlands Hurricanes: Cowburn, Freeman, Welham, Croston, Hardcastle (T, 2G), Scott, Walton, Clavering, O´Loughlin, Ryan, Boardman, Newbound (T), Walton. Subs: Bull, Dawson, Kaufman, O´Sullivan.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 14-0, 16-0, 20-0, 22-0, (SB), 22-4, 22-6, 22-10 : HT : 26-10, 28-10, (SO), 28-14, 28-16, 32-16, 36-16 : FT.
Referee: L. Rush.