Hoppers extended their unbeaten run to nine matches with a hard fought 31-22 win over a powerful Caldy side. Both teams looked to play with a high tempo which provided an open and entertaining contest with the more clinical home side prevailing.
Head Coach Michael Lough was pleased with the performance saying; “Caldy are a decent side so this was our most satisfying win so far. They played well and got us under pressure but we showed an impressive defence against what we were told was a good back line.”
He added; “I thought the second half was better than the first, the team spirit is excellent and even when we missed a few opportunities it doesn’t affect us and we can produce when it counts. There are a few things we need to work on, the discipline as we give away silly penalties but once we got on top and ran direct we made inroads into the defence and there is no team we aren’t confident against.”
Lough was full of praise for talismanic captain Dominic Moon, who led the way with a powerful performance and two tries, but felt Phil Mills was the ‘stand out performer, making some massive tackles and running hard all game’.
The first half was low on points, largely in part to some terrific try line defence from both sides, but provided plenty of excitement. Caldy got on the front foot early through the forwards but excellent work and the set piece and around the fringes kept the visitors out. Hoppers launched a few attacks of their own with Karl Fitzpatrick pulling the strings.
Hoppers finally broke the deadlock when Moon powered over following a 5m line-out, a flowing move was only stopped by a penalty and Hoppers kicked to touch with Moon breaking off the back of the maul to score. Sean Taylor added the extras in another excellent kicking display, with only a Richard Vasey penalty for Caldy moving the scoreboard along before the break; Hoppers also finished the half with 14 men as Jack Ward shown a yellow card.
Caldy started the second half strongly with a man advantage and took a 8-7 lead when hooker Mark Rylance touched down a well worked 5m line-out. The lead would barely last two minutes as quick hands out wide put Taylor in space and he beat the covering defence well to score and round under the posts.
The lead changed again soon after when a seemingly forward pass was unnoticed by the officials allowing an overlap on the right with back row Harry Broadbent showing a good step and turn of pace to score, Vasey converted.
Moon’s second try would snatch back the initiative following a powerful break through the middle by Rich Morton who offloaded well with Moon powering his way across the line. Taylor added the conversion and a penalty five minutes later to take the score beyond one score.
The game was wrapped up with five minutes to go when Fitzpatrick sliced his way through the line after a solid scrum before a well weighted pass hit replacement Eddie Webster in stride who showed great pace to glide past the full back, Taylor’s conversion took the score to 31-15 and even though a couple of penalties allowed Caldy to kick to the corner for another catch and drive score, this time touched down by replacement Chris Jones it was too little too late for the visitors, although they had a kick at goal to grab a losing bonus point but Vasey’s kick from all but half way fell short.
Hoppers travel to Otley next week before entertaining league leaders Stourbridge on December 8th.
Thanks to Mike Craig for giving us permission to use his photos below.