By Oscar Mortimer
With the yuletide period over, Loughborough students returned to the pitch to take on Caldy. Both sides were out to make an impression and get that all important first win of the New Year.
Loughborough started strong with a great attacking press and caught an early break in the form of a penalty just before the second minute. The lineout that proceeded was unfortunately turned over and Caldy gained possession for the first time in the match. Loughborough pressed well though and Caldy’s attack appeared to be stuck in its own 22. Sadly, an infringement at the breakdown from Loughborough allowed Caldy to create some momentum with a penalty kick to touch. A kick that was followed by a second infringement, this time with the kick being taken close enough to the posts for Caldy to take a 3-point lead in the 7th minute.
The game restarted and Loughborough put the pressure on again. They earnt a scrum almost immediately from a Caldy infringement; but the scrum wheeled around violently, allowing the Caldy 7 to break off and snatch the ball from Loughborough’s possession. The ball then made its way into the Loughborough half where the strength of the Caldy attack seemed to waiver, as their line flattened up and the ball was clumsily spilled out onto the far-right hand side. However, it was picked up by the Caldy winger, an evaded tackle proved all that was needed for him to go over in the 13th and extend their lead with a converted try.
Moments later, Caldy were once again close to the Loughborough line courtesy of a penalty kick, but they were denied in the lineout by a great contest from Loughborough, and then again in a subsequent lineout. As we approached the 25 minutes mark. Caldy spread the ball wide off a Loughborough kick and charged to victory in the left-hand corner. They failed to convert this time but continued to pull away none the less. A nightmare moment then occurred. Loughborough fought hard of the restart and some great passing had them almost over the Caldy line, but an opportunistic Caldy player plucked the ball out of the air as it went wide and ran the length of the pitch to extend their growing lead. The conversion followed and Caldy were leading by 22 points with 10 minutes left in the half. Loughborough couldn’t catch a break as Caldy scored another in the 31st minute due to great offloading skills in their forwards.
Loughborough made a sterling effort in final moments of the first half as they pushed for the Caldy line, but were kept at bay just long enough for Caldy to turn the ball. The whistle went and the two sides headed for the dressing rooms with a big comeback from Loughborough needed.
Halftime: Loughborough 0 – 29 Caldy
Despite the daunting challenge that awaited them in the second half, Loughborough looked determined to claw the game back, and managed to force Caldy to just a few feet from their line within 5 minutes of play. They then turned the ball and scored, and an expertly placed Owen Waters kick capped off their first points of the match.
Caldy weren’t ones to be made fools of though, in the 53rd minute their winger caught the ball just shy of the touch line with plenty of space to run into, and he pulled of a streaking run to score a converted try. Loughborough fired back though from the restart. Text book play by the forwards followed by some fancy handwork and timing in the backs saw Tom Ffitch weave his way in between the fractured Caldy backline to score Loughborough’s second try. After a long pause for an injury, the game restarted and Caldy were quick to score and convert again, with some great hand work from their wing and centre. And they were quick to score again off the restart. An infringement from Loughborough gave Caldy a scrum in the Loughborough half which Caldy utilised to put more points on the board.
The final 20 minutes of the game were hard fought and Loughborough never gave up, but Caldy’s strength proved to be their work off set pieces and their speed with the ball in hand. They managed to spread the Loughborough defence and exploit the subsequent gaps expertly. The game drew to a close with Caldy commanding a very convincing win. Loughborough would now have to go back to the drawing board, dust themselves off and aim for a win in their next fixture.
Full Time: Loughborough 14 – 71
Our Phaidon man of the match was Luke Frost. Luke showed an admirable determination in a game that proved to be very difficult to play. Caldy were well organised and they boast a formidable pack, but Luke put his body on the line with every single play of the game and put on a stellar performance across both halves of play.