Caldy 10 Preston Grasshoppers 0
Hoppers’ poor run of results continued with defeat at a cold Paton Field against Caldy, who are riding high in the league after an impressive run of victories.
Another defeat will do little for the confidence of players and coaches but they can take heart from what was a solid display where Grasshoppers did everything right but cross the try line.
On another day, with a little luck – and some decisions going their way – this could easily have been a win and supporters of both clubs felt Hoppers were unlucky to leave empty handed.
Head coach Garth Dew was disappointed with the result but looking to take positives from the game.
He said: “The record will say we lost but I thought that was a better performance and more mature display.
“We played in the right areas this week and put in a strong defensive performance but weren’t able to capitalise on some key moments.
“We should have made it 7-7 when we were driving to their line and it would have been a different game from there on.
“But I am pleased with the effort from the lads – especially the pack, which was dominant again.”
Hoppers started the game well but a couple of penalties allowed Caldy to kick to the corner and camp in the 22 for some time, with Hoppers unable to gain possession or clear their lines.
This finally led to a Neil Dowridge try from a catch and drive, with Andrew Soutar kicking well from the touchline.
Again a try against them kicked Hoppers into life and they wrestled back the territory advantage but were unable to gain much in the way of clean breaks as both defences were clearly on top.
Midway through the half, an incident after a scrum saw Oga Mabaya and Derek Salisbury receive yellow cards in what looked harsh for Hoppers and lenient for the Caldy prop.
Going into the break trailing 7-0 Hoppers then used the conditions to their advantage and dominated the early exchanges of the second period.
And after a number of penalties just metres from the line Soutar was shown a yellow card for a deliberate infringement – but no penalty try was awarded.
Hoppers could not make the man advantage count and a Gavin Roberts penalty stretched the home lead midway through the half.
For all Hoppers’ physical endeavour, they were not able to register a point for the second time this season.
Looking forward, Dew added; “The next four games are huge. If we can get a result against Otley we have what looks like an easier run of games in the New Year and we could turn the season around with a few wins.”
Eccles were making their first visit to Vale of Lune at this level and produced one of the shock results of the North One West season so far as the hosts went down 7-0.
The defeat leaves Vale in eighth place in the league, which equals their finishing position at the end of last season.
But they need to rediscover the form and panache they displayed earlier in the campaign if they are going to avoid being dragged into a battle to retain their status.
In the end it was far too easy for the visitors and too uncomfortable for the hosts.