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Last weekend a somewhat frustrated and disjointed Caldy secured an important 27-17 win over Hull at Paton Field to keep up their winning record in National 2 North, but it wasn’t a performance that Caldy Head Coach Matt Cairns was entirely happy with.
“I suppose the sign of a good side is when they can find a way to win whilst not at their best and we certainly weren’t at our best last Saturday. Hull are a good side and they gave us our toughest examination so far at Paton Field.”
“We were uncharacteristically hesitant in a number of areas of our game, particularly in the first half where our error count was probably the highest it has been all season. We tightened up our play in the second half, but we still conceded a late score.”
“This has become an unwelcome habit this season. We have a hugely tough run of fixtures in February starting with this weekend’s visit to Otley. At the moment Otley are in a dog fight at the wrong end of the table and they will certainly give everything they have for the full 80 minutes. Make no mistake this is a very big game for both sides”
So far this season injury plagued Otley have been inconsistent, with a run of victories followed by a run of defeats punctuated by several draws. In December Otley and Preston battled for 80 minutes to record only the second 0-0 draw in the entire history of National League rugby, with the previous such scoreless match occurring way back in November 1990
This is likely to be Caldy’s last ever visit to Otley’s famous West Yorkshire ground at Cross Green, site of famous victories by the North of England against the All Blacks in 1979 and the Wallabies in 1988. In order to finance the club’s new purpose-built stadium, which Otley believe will be the finest in the North of England, the Cross Green ground has been sold to developers for retirement flats.
Cross Green has not been a particularly happy hunting ground for the Wirral side. Other than in their promotion winning 2016/17 season games have been incredibly close between the sides at Cross Green. In the five matches between 2011 and 2016 the aggregate score stands at Otley 143 points to Caldy’s 141 points with Otley coming out on top 3 times to Caldy’s solitary win with one drawn game.
On Saturday Caldy will be looking to even up the record and extend their winning run to 20 games but Director of Rugby Gareth Davies echoed Cairns’ concerns about the danger Otley pose.
“Otley have a tremendous rugby pedigree and they are very resilient and competitive. Back in the 2015/16 season, with only about 5 or 6 minutes to go we were three scores ahead at Cross Green and seemingly in total control.”
“Otley didn’t see it that way. They stayed in the fight and scored two late tries and a penalty to send us home from Yorkshire with a one-point loss, 33-34. A fair number of the current Caldy squad were playing that day and they don’t need much reminding of just how difficult a challenge Otley pose at Cross Green”
Live commentary from the game will be posted on Twitter @Caldy RUFC
Head Coach Matt Cairns has selected the following squad for the match at Cross Green which kicks off at 2.00 p.m.
1. Jack Parker, 2 Ollie Hearn, 3 Derek Salisbury, 4. Martin Gerrard, 5. Jack Collister, 6. Harrison Crowe, 7. Nyle Davidson, 8. JJ Dickinson 9. Jacob Ainscough, 10. Lewis Barker, 11. Ben Jones, 12. Mike Barlow, 13. Gavin Roberts, 14. Nick Royle, 15. Rhys Hayes 16. Adam Aigbokhae, 17.Mike Cartmill, 18. Tom Sanders, 19. Ted Stagg, 20. John Whittaker