The game was played at Sale Sharks training ground – some 25 miles from Rossendale – because the home pitch was unfit after 24 hours of rain.
The surface was fine but there was a gale blowing almost directly down the pitch with the “home” side having the benefit in the first half.
They have a powerful and experienced pack together with some skillful and enterprising backs and set off at a pace.
Kiwi Paddy Pole – scorer of 16 tries last season – was first on the score sheet strolling over with embarrassing ease after six minutes following a scrum ten meters out. Impressive fly half Steven Nutt added the conversion.
Dale kept the pressure on with prop Leyton Taylor barreling over from short range on 17 minutes to make it 14-0.
It was hard work into the elements but a series of pick and drives got us into home territory forcing a penalty just outside the 22. We opted to go for a line out and from the throw Liam Bailey regathered and went over but he had put a foot in touch.
Dale continued to use the wind to play the game in our half and it was little surprise when they finished again from close range. This time it was winger Tom Bedlow who took the final pass.
At 21-0 down after half an hour we had a mountain to climb but our cause was greatly helped by some enterprise from Gareth Foreman just before the break.
Rossendale expected us to kick for touch when we were awarded a penalty on our 22. Instead Gareth took a quick tap and the ball was whipped out Scott Butcher who raced clear from 70 meters and outstripped the cover. The heavens opened for Stu Waites' conversion but he managed it to make it 21-7 at the break.
Rossendale are ideally equipped to play into a gale and they started the second half strongly going further ahead with a penalty .
But we began to use the elements to gain territory and to put pressure on a home side whose more experienced forwards were beginning to run out of steam.
Stu Waites pulled three points back on the hour with a penalty, and then replacement Colin Cheslin went in at the corner but was judged to have put a foot in touch. From the line-out Adam Coates was quickest to react to a charge down beating scrum half Jamie Albinson to that vital touch. Waites was narrowly wide with the con.From the lione-out
Colin Cheslin wasn't to be denied a few minutes later when he again showed great finishing to beat three men after we rsan the ball from our half. This time the award was given to put us in bonus point territory but Waites was again just wide.
With five minutes to go, and trailing by just four points Gareth Foreman kicked beautifully intyo the home 22 only for play to brought back to the halfway line for the ref to sin bin substitute Andrew Dixon for retaliation.
Dale were nervous but fought back and they did get themselves a penalty in front of the posts however they couldn't find their kicking tee. As a result the previously dependable Nutt screwed his kick wide.
A slightly bizarre end to a hard fought game which defied the elements.
Rossendale: Will Sharratt, Tom Bedlow, Zyl Wynard, Tom Albinson, Roger Dennison, Stephen Nutt, James Albinson, Danny Greenhaugh, Paul Keys, Leighton Taylor, Pat Pole, Tim Fourie, J Goosen, A Dauncy, Dan Collins. Reps: Ian Marshall Sam Greenwood, Alasdair Harper.
Tries: P Pole, L Taylor, R Dennison.
Cons: Nutt 
Pens Nutt 
Yellow: D Collins 
West: Stu Waites, Scott Butcher, Andrew Cheslin, Gav Robinson, Greg Edwards [C Cheslin 65], Gareth Foreman, Andrew Foreman, Ross Wood [M Hogan 55], Liam Bailey, Adam Coates, Andrew Davies, Ben Lloyd [ A Dixon 55], Dan Boatman [capt], Jon Boatman, Tom Dixon. Reps: Michael Hogan, Andrew Dixon, Colin Cheslin.
Tries: S Butcher, A Coatews, C Cheslin.
Cons: S Waites 
Pens S. Waites 
Yellow: A Dixon 
Referee: Dean Lythgoe [Northern Society}