Caldy 2s 50 Hoppers 2s 9
The second team endured a torrid afternoon at Paton Field as they lost their second consecutive Conference A fixture. Caldy fully deserved their eight try victory and clearly enjoyed the chance to exercise a degree of revenge for the two defeats that Hoppers dished out to them before Christmas.
The home side attacked with pace and purpose whilst slack defence from Hoppers allowed them to repeatedly offload in the tackle. Hoppers had started the brighter of the two sides and dominated the early possession and territory. Stand-off Lewis Allen slotted three penalties in quick succession, Hoppers led 9-0 and prospects seemed to be as bright as the winter sunshine which bathed the Wirral peninsular.
However a botched restart saw Caldy grab the momentum and Hoppers capitulated in a manner similar to that of England’s batsmen earlier in the day. A series of missed tackles followed and the Caldy stand-off danced through to score under the posts. They quickly added a second and Hoppers lead was wiped out. Cameron Berry was then tackled high thus giving Allen the chance to draw the sides level. Unfortunately his attempt rebounded off the upright and Caldy led 12-9. This turned out to be the closest that Hoppers got to adding to their tally as their hosts increased the pressure and dominated the rest of the match.
More poor defence saw Caldy lead 19-9 at half-time and to make matters worse Owen McKenna suffered a knee injury which saw Hoppers most potent attacking threat leave the field. The second half was one-way traffic as the Caldy stand-off continued to exploit what was an increasingly hapless Hoppers defence. Two more tries followed and the Caldy back-row were seemingly running riot. With the score at 31-9 Doug Grimes popped his shoulder and Hoppers, who had used all three replacements, were down to fourteen men.
With a few minutes remaining Hoppers managed to put the Caldy line under some pressure. Unfortunately the home side turned the ball over with devastating consequences as they managed to go the length of the field for their seventh try. With a hostile crowd baying for more the Caldy full-back danced his way through a number of defenders before setting up the number eight for their final score. Therefore a miserable afternoon was complete and Hoppers had an uncomfortable journey back up to Preston during which they could lick their wounds.
Mike Lough’s men have no time in which to dwell on the defeat as they have an exceptionally hard trip to Stockport next Saturday. Hopefully the match will see a welcome return to the potent attack and miserly defence that laid the foundations for the first half of the season. If Hoppers have any hopes of securing the Conference A title then next week’s encounter represents a “must-win” fixture. Hoppers can take heart from their thrilling victory at Stockport earlier in the season and will spend the week focusing on the task ahead.