Caldy’s 25th consecutive win of the season enabled them to do the double over one of the North West’s biggest clubs and in the process secure the National 2 North title with 5 games to spare.
A young and spirited Hoppers side had no answer to Caldy’s pace and power. Although the home side had their fair share of possession and throughout the game tried mightily to break through Caldy’s defensive wall it was to no avail. Like all teams before them this season, they struggled to match Caldy in any area of the game.
The fast 3 G surface at Lightfoot Green suited Caldy, particularly full back Rhys Hayes who had his best game of the season making break after break to put his colleagues into space. The occasion and the immaculate surface was enjoyed by the whole Caldy squad as they piled up the points through the power of the pack with JJ Dickinson and Jack Parker notching up scores and through some sublime handling by the backs with Nick Royle, Rhys Hayes and Mike Cartmill all crossing.
There was much to admire in Caldy’s play. One early coruscating run by Hayes from deep within his own half evaded numerous tackles to put him in at the corner for a splendid individual score. As the game broke up Caldy’s attack took charge. Another sizzling break by Hayes linked him with the giant second row Tom Sanders whose thundering gallop down the flank combined with Nick Royle to put the Caldy speedster in at the opposite corner. Caldy were not going to be denied their win but Hoppers continued to battle hard.
Scrum half Cameron Davies was causing mayhem. His power around the ruck was acting as a ninth forward for Caldy, taking two or three Preston players to stop his powerful darting runs. But trying to stop the scrum half’s incursions just created further gaps out wide which the destructive Adam Aigbokhae exploited to put centre Mike Cartmill in for another score.
The home side did eventually manage to get on the score sheet after their best player, no 8 Matt Lamprey, drove over from a 5-metre scrum. The score confirmed the grit and resilience of a very young Preston Grasshoppers side which will surely mature into a very good side.
The win kept Caldy 29 points clear of second placed Fylde and confirmed the Wirral side’s return to National 1 next season. However, before this season is finished Caldy have 5 more tough games in National 2 North to see out and to try and accomplish an unbeaten campaign.