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MATCH REPORT – Caldy 26 – Cinderford 24

Caldy moves to within a point of the second placed visitors Cinderford courtesy of a thrilling home victory. Having led 12-10 at the break, Caldy fell 24-19 behind in the final quarter only for a 69th minute Nick Royle special to swing the game back decisively in their favour.

After truly awful weather had lashed the Wirral peninsula for most of the morning it was a credit to both sides that such a pulsating and exciting game of rugby game of rugby was played.

Caldy dominated the early exchanges and after 6 minutes No 8 JJ Dickinson scored from a driven line out to register the first points for Caldy. Cinderford were relishing the heavy conditions with their muscular pack dominating the mauls and set scrums leading to three points from the boot of Reece Boughton after a Caldy infringement.

The game then settled into a stalemate with the visitors’ remorseless forward drives led by the powerful George Porter contrasting with the home side’s more ambitious wide play. Determined and gritty defence by Caldy, which included a remarkable last ditch defensive tackle by Caldy’s Tom Sanders and a midfield pile driver from centre Lucas Titherington kept the home side’s line intact. 

Eventually, something had to give and it was the visitors who cracked first. With half time beckoning Caldy’s ambition was rewarded when Mike Barlow’s kick was gathered by Ben Jones who raced in to score under the posts and then kick the easiest of conversions. The 12-3 lead lasted only a moment as another Cinderford forward surge led to a line out drive and a score by Cinderford tighthead James Elliott expertly converted by Boughton to cut Caldy’s lead to just two points at the break.

Playing against the wind Cinderford started the second half with purpose and when full back Michael Wilcox raced the length of the pitch after snaffling an interception to give the visitors a 12-17 lead, they started to establish some small measure of control. 

Caldy were not done though. With twenty minutes to go they ran the ball from behind their own posts and with sizzling interplay orchestrated by Ezra Hinchliffe they went the length of the field to secure a penalty try after referee James O Brien adjudged that Cinderford had illegally prevented a score. 

In this thrilling see – saw encounter, the resilient visitors responded almost immediately with a brilliant try of their own when Will Baldwin gathered an ambitious cross field kick for a converted try to snatch back the lead. 

Ten minutes to go and Caldy had the prospect of yet once again being turned over in the last few minutes by the big men from the Forest of Dean. If there was going to be a final twist to secure the league points for Caldy it was going to take something special and Caldy’s ageless and peerless winger Nick Royle provided it. 

One to one with his opposite number and 20 metres to the line is Royle territory. A step, a kick or a straight sprint, Caldy’s flier usually finds his way to the line and after the home side had worked themselves back up field to the Cinderford 22 metre line they fashioned a Royle opportunity. This time it was the sprint, the feint, and then the expert chip and chase to score the bonus point try in the corner. 

To secure the five league points there was still work to do and Ben Jones had a difficult kick from wide out to take the lead. It sailed through the posts to secure a Caldy win and lift Ben Jones to the top of the National 1 scoring chart.

This was a good win against one of the best sides to ever visit Paton Field and there will be some quiet satisfaction that home and away fixtures against Cinderford are over with for this season. For his industry, his line out accuracy and his indefatigable work in defence and at scrum time The Rugby Paper selected hooker Ollie Hearn as the game’s star man. It was a well-deserved accolade.

Caldy’s Head Coach Matt Cairns reflected on the win which moves Caldy up to third, just one point behind 2nd placed Cinderford.

 “Cinderford are a very good side and to get a bonus point win over them is pleasing. We got the rub of the green on some close calls but whilst not being at our best I was pleased by how the squad defended and dug in to secure the win”

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