Caldy 2nd XV 13 Hoppers 2nd XV 18
Hoppers returned to winning ways after two frustrating defeats with a hard fought but ultimately deserved victory on the Wirral peninsular. The result maintains Hopper’s Bateman Premier League title aspirations although they will need to remain unbeaten if they are to regain the title.
Young’s men were clearly lacking a little confidence but they looked impressive whenever they ran with purpose or maintained possession. However the match was something of a stop, start affair which was dominated by the referee’s whistle. Players, support staff and members of the crowd became frustrated on what was a sunny but fresh afternoon at Paton Field.
Preston dominated early possession and Farley’s early penalty fell just short. He made no mistake a few minutes later though and Young’s men had a 3-0 lead. Farley’s third effort of the afternoon hit a post and Hoppers attempts to capitalise on the confusion were thwarted by some scrambling Caldy defence.
Caldy managed to build some pressure of their own and Hoppers were nearly caught out down the blindside. Two minutes later the home side made no mistake and scored an unconverted try on the left. Hoppers weren’t out of first gear but some smart play from Mark Murray caused mayhem in the Caldy defence as they could not clear his well executed kick. The stand-off read the bounce before feeding Reddick, whose nice pass allowed Kendall to stroll over. The young winger enjoyed a fine all round game, particularly in defence as his opposite man got no change out of him all afternoon.
Hoppers enjoyed their best period and drove a line out over in the left corner. Number eight Luke Proctor, whose form had been good of late, was the scorer and Hoppers led 13-5 at the break.
The second half ebbed and flowed with Hoppers providing the better quality and continuity although Caldy had enough possession to believe they had a chance of winning the game. Proctor grabbed his second as the dominant Hoppers pack drove a scrum over on the right hand side. Farley couldn’t add the conversion but Preston did have a healthy 18-5 lead.
Caldy upped their work rate hoping to launch a comeback. They secured quick ball from a line out, and although their impressive number 8 clearly knocked-on in contact they managed to recycle for their inside centre (who also enjoyed a fine game) to score on the right. The conversion was wide but Caldy were finishing the game strongly.
Hoppers were 18-10 ahead and were having to defend well, but when Caldy won a penalty the home side had a chance to reduce the arrears once more. The effort was shanked left, Hoppers cleared their lines but some sloppy play allowed Caldy back into Preston territory. Young’s men were seemingly on the wrong end of very decision and the home side won another penalty which reduced the deficit to 18-13.
Caldy were unable to sustain any more pressure though and Hoppers finished the match the stronger, securing the morale boosting victory they needed. The result lifts Hoppers to third in the table and they have some ground to make up on Macclesfield and Sedgley Tigers. Young’s men have next Saturday off and by the time they play again the injury list should be a little shorter.