Hoppers poor run of results continued with defeat away at a cold Paton Field against Caldy, who are riding high in the league after an impressive run of victories.
Another defeat will do little for the confidence of players and coaches but they can take heart from what was a solid display where Hoppers did everything right but cross the try line.
On another day with a little luck and some decisions going their way this could easily have been a win and supporters of both clubs felt Hoppers were unlucky to leave empty handed.
Head coach Garth Dew was disappointed with the result but looking to take positives from the game, saying; “The record will say we lost but I thought that was a better performance and more mature display. We played in the right areas this week and put in a strong defensive performance but weren’t able to capitalise on some key moments.”
“We should have made it 7-7 when we were driving to their line and it would have been a different game from there on but I am pleased with the effort from the lads especially the pack which was dominant again.”
“Again there were some strange decisions, we were completely on top in the scrum when their tight-head kicked off and we end up with a player in the bin as well as him, the card to Will Lees was petty as it wasn’t a dangerous tackle and to give a penalty for a clash of heads was a bad decision.”
Hoppers started the game well but a couple of penalties allowed Caldy to kick to the corner and camp in the 22 for some time, with Hoppers unable to gain possession or clear their lines. This finally led to a Neil Dowridge try from a catch and drive with Andrew Soutar kicking well from the touchline.
Again a try against them kicked Hoppers into life and they wrestled back the territory advantage but were unable to gain much in the way of clean breaks as both defences were clearly on top. Mid way through the half an incident after a scrum saw Oga Mabaya and Derek Salisbury receive yellow cards in what looked harsh for Hoppers and lenient for the Caldy prop.
Going into the break trailing 7-0 Hoppers then used the conditions to their advantage and dominated the early exchanges of the second period. Good hands and some strong running lines got Hoppers into the 22 with Caldy forced to infringe a number of times just metres from the line. Soutar was shown a yellow card for a professional foul within the 5m but no penalty try was awarded and surprisingly further penalties did not see more yellow cards.
As a result Caldy were able to sack mauls and Hoppers couldn’t make the man advantage count, eventually losing possession which was compounded when a Gavin Roberts penalty stretched the home lead midway through the half and for all Hoppers physical endeavour they weren’t able to register a point for the second time this season.
Looking forward Dew added; “The next four games are huge, if we can get a result against Otley we have what look like an easier run of games in the New Year with Broadstreet and Stockport, the lads are hungry for results and now there is a different type of pressure as we will be expected to win these games and four wins from the next five could turn the season around.”