YORK Acorn ALRC's Coral Challenge Cup run came to an end at the hands of League One outfit Rochdale Hornets in the third round.

The Hornets beat a battling Acorn 54-10 at the AJ Bell stadium, home of Super League side Salford City Reds.

A poor opening 15 minutes five before half-time for Acorn ultimately took the game out of their reach. During those periods Acorn conceded five tries to leave them 30-0 down at half-time.

It was a case of defeat but not dishonour for Acorn against a side a tier higher.

The first score came on the back of a penalty in the opening 30 seconds. Rochdale then got into a good field position before quick hands along their backs created the position from which man-of-the-match full-back Sam Freeman cut through to score and convert.

An error from a grubber kick and a dropped ball put Acorn's defence under pressure once more and second-rower Jamie Tracey was able to race over for a try, goaled again by Freeman.

Rochdale stand-off Lewis Sheridan was next over to see Rochdale race into an 18-0 lead.

To their credit, Acorn showed great resolve and character to stem the tide, firstly through the defensive qualities of centre Mark Sanderson, loose forward Tom Holder and energetic play from acting half James Mountford.

Acorn's attack also started to function better with the promptings of stand-off Antony Chilton and the strong running of forwards Jordan Hyde and Tim Stubbs, along with the powerful bursts of winger Luke Swales.

One such Swales run nearly saw him get away down the York left, before he was tackled into touch on the halfway line.

Acorn then lost centre Ryan Gallacher to a head injury. Rochdale second-rower Liam Whalley was sin-binned for the swinging arm.

Acorn would have been pleased with the way they were competing in the lead-up to half-time - until they conceded two scores in the final five minutes. On the Acorn right, Sheridan sent winger Dale Bloomfield in for a try at the corner and on the stroke of half-time, Freeman notched another try when he cut through from just inside the Acorn half.

The opening stages of the second half were quite even and Acorn had periods of pressure close to the Hornets' line but could not turn pressure into points and Rochdale made them pay with a brace of tries on 51 and 56 minutes through centre Ben Calland.

Injuries further hit Acorn's bid as they had two back-rowers playing in the centres and two front-rowers playing in the second rows for periods of the game.

Rochdale stretched their lead to 48-0 when Luke Fowden crossed for a try goaled by Freeman.

Finally Acorn got their just rewards with two tries in a seven-minute spell. Both were scored by two of their best performers.

On 67 minutes, excellent approach play by scrum-half Lewis Brown had the Rochdale defence grasping thin air. He passed to loose forward Tom Holder, whose offload sent the impressive Sanderson around the Rochdale winger to score a fine unconverted try.

Ever-improving substitute forward Alex Hardcastle crashed over from close range for a 74th-minute try, goaled by Chilton.

Rochdale centre Jack Higginson notched a 77th-minute try. Freeman kicked the extras for his ninth goal from nine attempts.