Caldy 2nd XV 17 Hoppers 2nd XV 39
The second team showed no signs of rustiness following a break of nearly a month without any rugby. In the face of a bitterly cold and near gale force wind they efficiently dispatched a Caldy side who kicked off with a distinct size advantage. The hosts also benefited from some experienced backs but the Hoppers defence was strong throughout and Caldy were restricted to playing a lot of forward orientated “one out rugby”.
Caldy kicked off with the wind at their backs and set the early pace, the result being an unconverted try on the left. Hoppers were guilty of a little hesitation as it seemed as though the men from Paton Field knocked on twice in the build up. Significantly the referee did not concur and Hoppers protests were in vain.
Young’s men then began to assert themselves and began playing adventurous rugby which probably belied the adverse conditions. Man of the match Frings went close and Caldy cleared their lines but the men from Lightfoot Green again felt they were on the wrong end of the officiating. Their concerns mattered little though as a beautifully worked try from a set scrum saw Yates skate through. Ward, who kicked excellently despite the conditions, added the extras.
Hoppers failed to capitalise on their adventure and Caldy punted a penalty deep into the twenty two. From the resultant line out the black and yellows managed to score around the edge of the maul. The conversion was missed and the hosts led 10-7 but Hoppers were well and truly in the game.
Young’s men upped the intensity of their defence and increased the pace of their attack. A period of great retention and ambition culminated in a smartly taken score for Billy Woof. The conversion was good and the men in blue and white now led 14-10.
Rather than consolidate their lead before the break Hoppers crossed the whitewash once more. Some fine play by Moulding and Gargett, interspersed with a huge tackle by Brad Tuff resulted in a second try for Yates who, in spite of the back unfriendly weather, seemed to thoroughly enjoy his afternoon. The extras were just wide but Hoppers had a healthy looking lead knowing that the wind would be at their backs in the second stanza.
Young’s men set a frenetic pace after the break and scored two quick tries which rather knocked the stuffing out of their hosts. Hoppers turned over a Caldy scrum and Frings again went close, however it was Moulding who mopped up and scored. Ward added another useful two points. The next score also came directly from a turnover, this time it was the side’s Godfather, Matt Gargett, who finished things off.
At 33-10 it looked a long way back for Caldy but they managed to build their first spell of sustained pressure since the mid point of the first half. Again their platform was built on a driving maul and their pack rumbled over. They added the extras but were still three scores in arrears.
Hoppers extinguished the mini revival and came straight back via a penalty from Ward. Caldy began to concede more and more needless penalties and it was evident to all watching that they had lost their heads. As a result any ambitions they had of staging a comeback disappeared with the viscous Wirral wind. Another incident of ill discipline saw Ward add a further three points and Hoppers had secured a fine victory.
Coach Young reflected afterwards that the performance was possibly the finest of season and with virtually a fully fit squad to choose from it represented ideal preparation for next Saturday’s eagerly anticipated clash with Sedgley Tigers.