Caldy 2nd XV 7 Hoppers 2nd XV 13
Hoppers got the defence of their Bateman Premier League title off to the perfect start with victory against Caldy in their opening Conference A fixture.
Young’s men deserved their win in a compelling and at times attritional encounter on a pleasant afternoon at Paton Field.
Hoppers started the stronger and were camped in the Caldy twenty two but the home side repelled the blue and white marauders. Caldy’s defence, along with their kicking game, is their strongest facet and they used both to escape the Preston siege and break down field. The home side took the lead against the run of play following some average defence around the fringes led to the Caldy outside centre galloping under the posts for a converted try.
Preston fought back strongly and Wallace looked as though he’d tied the scores but he was held up in the act of scoring. The two sides turned round separated by a single score but Hoppers had enjoyed a territorial advantage and dominance at the set piece. Caldy were reliant on their kicking game to secure field position whilst the Hoppers backs, who were again marshalled well by Allen, were eagerly looking for space out wide.
The second half started brightly for the visitors as they turned their hosts over in midfield, allowing for Austin to feed Oliver Farley. The young centre looked set to score but was tackled just five metres from the line. Young’s men had missed two golden opportunities but they remained patient and continued to put the men in black under pressure.
Hoppers’ patience paid off as the Caldy defence continued to creak and a couple of indiscretions at the breakdown led to two penalties from Allen. Caldy led 7-6 but the momentum was with the visitors as they sought to avenge their defeat in the Autumn mud bath.
A moment of brilliance from Alex Austin saw Hoppers take the lead for the first time. Preston grabbed a turnover close to the half way line and the quicksilver lock embarked on a mazy run in which he left several defenders trailing in his wake. His sixty metre effort, converted by Allen, was even described by an opposition player as a wonder try after the game and it gave Hoppers a priceless advantage.
Young’s men consolidated their position, repelling some strong surges by a resolute and determined Caldy side. In the final stages the visitors were camped in the Caldy twenty two but a quickly taken free kick and a strong surge by the home side’s number eight saw their right winger racing towards the Hoppers posts. Caldy looked certain to score but a fantastic cover tackle by Tom Grimes secured the victory for the defending champions.
After the match Coach Young described it as his best victory of the season and it provided the perfect tonic for next Saturday’s visit of perennial title challengers Macclesfield. The men from Cheshire managed to overcome Chester in a close affair at Priory Park. The other result of note saw Fylde Hawks thump Sedgley Park in a victory described as “splendid” in their match report.