A youthful Warrington Wizards side travelled to play Rochdale Hornets in a pre-season friendly game at Littleborough Rugby Union Club on Sunday lunchtime and put in a very creditable performance before suffering an eight point defeat.
The Wizards took the opportunity to have a look at several players who have joined the club during the off-season and the signs for the future look very good after a storming second half comeback almost brought them victory.
It was the Wizards who opened the scoring in the ninth minute when sixteen year old winger Daniel Banks made a fine run down the wing and after Rochdale were penalised for holding him down in the tackle the ball was swept through several pairs of hands before stand off Alan Reddecliff created the opportunity for second row Ryan Jones to score. Scrum half Graham Healey converted but then twelve minutes later the Hornets hit back when quick hands allowed full back Andy Taylor to break through the Wizards line and race twenty metres to score. Stand off Danny Price added the conversion to level the scores.
Almost immediately a mistake by the Wizards gave possession to Hornets in a dangerous position and substitute Charles Moore pounced to race over under the posts; Price goaled and they stretched their lead further when the Wizards were punished for holding down in the tackle and from the resulting penalty scrum half Will Chadwick fed second row Paul Brearley and the former Warrington Wolves Academy player’s great ball found Taylor who scored under the posts. Price again added the extras.
Straight from the restart the ball was sent out to Chadwick who broke through and went thirty metres before handing onto the supporting Price who scored under the posts. He converted himself to give his side a commanding 24-6 half time advantage.
Four minutes into the second half Wizards full back Craig Middlemore received the ball on the halfway line and he ran straight through four attempted tacklers on a mazy fifty metre run to score under the posts. Healey converted and then further pressure on the Hornets line paid off when Reddecliff scored at the right of the posts. He added the conversion himself to reduce the deficit to just six points.
Rochdale responded well to the Wizards comeback and regained the initiative when loose forward Ben Marsden managed to twist in the tackle and score under the posts to give Price a simple conversion and then just after the hour mark Chadwick went over for a deserved try that was goaled by Taylor to put the Hornets 36-18 ahead.
The Wizards refused to lie down and when impressive prop forward Mike Leicester stole the ball in a one on one tackle it gave them the impetus to show of some dazzling handling skills as no fewer than six men were involved in setting up centre Craig Woolvine for a try that was converted by Healey.
The final try of the match went to Wizards loose forward Paul Reynolds who touched down wide out with a minute of the game remaining to make the final score 36-28 to Rochdale in a very highly entertaining encounter.

HORNETS
Andy Taylor, Kemar Gyles, Matt Reid, Jack Knowles, Barry Clarke, Danny Price, Will Chadwick, Dean Mattinson, Dan Bedford, Jacob Almolm, Fraser Jones-Lake, Paul Brearley, Ben Marsden.
Subs:Ryan Brown, Damien Turner, Charles Moore, Phil Schofield.

WIZARDS
Craig Middlemore, Daniel Banks, Luke Butler, Craig Woolvine, Christian Taylor, Alan Reddecliff, Graham Healey, Mike Leicester, Hayden James, Christian Froggatt, Ryan Jones, Martyn Bradshaw, Paul Reynolds.
Subs:James Rosson, Matt Clarke, Mike Rosson, Sean Williams, John Brotherton.