At the Memorial Ground on Saturday, Wirral entertained Caldy in a Cheshire Cup Quarter Final in front of a large bank holiday crowd. Ironically the teams had been coached by the other teams coach over the past two seasons.
Caldy had the wind advantage in the first half as they played towards the road and dominated possession in the first quarter of the game aided by the penalty count in their favour. Wirral were unfortunate in losing captain and fly half, CRAIG HARVEY to a knee injury allowing new comer DAVE MORLEY to make his debut. Two penalties to Caldy enabled them to camp in the Wirral 20m area and from a 5m scrum, RHYS HAYS gave a pass to GAVIN ROBERTS on the burst who scored close to the posts and easily converted by LIAM ISSACS, 0-7 (20 mins).
On 31 minutes Wirral reduced the arrears with a penalty from 40m by JAMES ANNETTS. Gradually Wirral began to see more of the ball and in the final minutes of the half saw Wirral in the Caldy 20m area after some astute kicking by DAVE MORLEY. The final act of the half was a worked move by Wirral which created a scoring opportunity only for the referee to call back play for an infringement. 3-7 at half- time.
In the first few minutes of the second half Caldy pressure resulted in a rare missed tackle from Wirral enabled centre, MIKE BARLOW to run through the gap to score close to the posts- remarkably the conversion was missed, which was going to prove costly at the end of the game.3-12-44 minutes.
Caldy were now conceding penalties one of which resulted in Caldys’ first yellow card. SAM BROADBENT came on for CHRIS SPEED. Wirral were stopped close to the Caldy line where good play saw JAMES REEVES snake over the line close to the posts and converted by JAMES ANNETTS 10-12 (55 minutes). Two minutes later, Wirral were in the lead after a good run by MATT LOON where from the resultant play, JAMES ANNETTS kicked a 30m penalty and minutes later the same player kicked a penalty from 50m to extend the lead to 16-12 (65 minutes).
With Wirral now having a greater share of possession play was interrupted when the Caldy prop, DEREK SALISBURY was sin-binned. Wirral’s second try commenced with a catch by CHRIS CROWLEY followed by a kick over the Caldy defence, where he stopped the next Caldy attack, from the resultant play Wirral won turnover ball and this was passed down the line where MARK GIDMAN made a good run down the wing only to be tackled a few metres short of the line. The ball was loose with Caldy not clearing and HAYDN LONG was on hand to score in the corner, the conversion was missed. 21-12 (71 minutes). Although only 9 minutes were left the game went on for another 20 minutes.
The remainder of the game saw Caldy applying pressure and were rewarded with a controversial try by NICK ROYLE, which was not converted 21-17. The final minutes saw Caldy camped in the Wirral 20m area with a succession of 5m scrums but the Wirral scrum held as Caldy sort a push over try. Looking back on the game that missed conversion would have helped Caldy in so much a converted penalty now would have given the away team a one point victory. Finally there was a knock on by Caldy and the game was over.
New coach SIMON VERBICKAS was pleased with the work rate and commitment shown by the 18 players who turned out. Comment should be made of the front three who played the full game against a very strong and experienced front row.
Next week Wirral have a semi final game at home against Sale F.C. with kick off at 3.00pm. Come down and support the team.