Late Penalty Seals narrow Victory for Darlington
Caldy came agonisingly close to sealing a deserved victory over Darlington Mowden Park only for the
visitors to steal the glory in the final minute. A penalty for failing to release the ball was all that
stood in the way of Caldy finishing off a gritty performance in which Darlington struggled to control.
This really was a war of attrition for eighty long minutes, but Caldy started it with the usual mentality
and put DMP right on the back foot from the off.
After a dominant scrum, against a distinguished pack in which Caldy overpowered impressively all
game, Rhys Hayes smartly fooled the well-drilled DMP defence and broke through reminiscently of
his fine season to date. The attempted fifteen metre pass was slightly behind its target in Luke
Hibberd and the dynamic winger was caught just short of the line as a result.
The subsequent five minutes were a bombardment of Caldy battering rams. The likes of Salisbury
and Sanders attacking with a ferocity so deserving of a try. Yet this dominant passage of play
resulted in just three points, courtesy of Gavin Roberts.
After 19 minutes, Darlington fly-half Brett Cannon produced some brilliance of his own as he
emulated Hayes’ earlier break, cleverly using his options as decoys and puncturing a rare hole
through the Caldy backline to score under the posts.
Both sides continued to wear each other down in the middle of the park with few mistakes being
made. There was a similar mentality of graft and hard work in defence to the Loughborough victory
and the welcome return of JJ Dickinson from injury gave Caldy extra potency going forward.
The second half saw Caldy produce a similarly pulsating start to the first and after only three
minutes, Nick Royle was adding another try to his impressive and ever-growing tally.
A decisive move from Rhys Hayes in which he quickly changed the direction of play from the base of
the ruck, catching the Darlington defence off-guard, and putting Caldy in the driving seat with the
score at 8-7.
DMP struggled to get a foothold as Caldy refused to take their foot off the accelerator. A confident
Royle attempted an up and under in which he certainly had the beating of his opposite man, yet he
was halted in his attempts to retrieve the ball. No impediment was the resulting decision and Royle
felt otherwise, leaving him with a ten minute rest on the touchline.
Caldy impressively came through that period unscathed and victory was in reach.
The final minute was one to forget however. The decision of failing to release the ball was given and
Warren Seals confirmed victory for Darlington by confidently stepping up and sealing
disappointment for Caldy.
A performance that warranted more than a losing bonus point against a Nat 1 giant is a sign of
Caldy’s constant improvement on the pitch and is reminiscent of their desire to learn at this level.