The Reds maintained their winning start to 2022/23, recovering from a half-time deficit to take maximum points after a powerful second-half display.
On a beautiful day at Paton Field on the Wirral, featuring sunshine, a moderate breeze and views across to the Welsh hills, hosts Caldy attracted a crowd of 1,895, the highest of the day at level, two, including around 200 who were shouting for the Reds.
The visitors were in the ascendancy in the early stages, but couldn’t make the most of an attacking lineout opportunity. With Jersey players – from 1 to 15 – keen to run at their opponents, it was the man in the highest shirt number who made the break, Playing his 50th game for the Reds, full-back Brendan Owen burst through the first line of Caldy defence and worked a ‘one-two’ with the supporting James Mitchell before powering to the line, with the cover tackling not coming in time to prevent the score.
Caldy were galvanised by going behind, and the noise levels surged as the hosts struck twice in five minutes, with both scores by former England Sevens’ fliers. First it was veteran Nick Royle, who had scored three times in two matches against the Reds for Fylde in 2011/12, who was put clear in the right-hand corner by number 8 JJ Dickinson after a scrum. Then prop Adam Aigbokhae showed his ability with ball in hand on the opposite flank, getting past Tom Pittman and finding Tom Parry (an early replacement in the home back row) on the outside, after which the ball was switched inside to Dan Bibby, who beat the last defender and raced to the line.
Trailing by seven points, the Reds immediately found themselves without the services of back rower James Dun, sin-binned by referee Charlie Gayther after a late hit on fly-half Ezra Hinchliffe during the build-up to Bibby's try.
But the deficit in numbers didn’t stop the visitors trying to attack, and when Tomi Lewis went close in the corner and looked to pass back inside to skipper Macauley Cook, the Caldy defence could only flap the ball back over the try-line, with Cook pouncing on it for the try.
Although the home side would have been pleased to go to the changing rooms with a modest lead, the second half began with concern over the set piece, with three successive lineouts going wrong for the men from the Wirral. This enabled the visitors to build pressure, and work TJ Harris over for a well-worked try from an attacking lineout.
The bonus point try soon followed, with Jordan Holgate showing real power to force his way over. Harvey Biljon had already made good use of his bench by this point, and it was the two players introduced at half-time who completed the try-scoring. First Ryan Hutler showed great pace and considerable power down the right flank, claiming his first try for the Reds since his debut in a friendly at Coventry in February 2021. The winger showed his delight at scoring (as did his team-mates) on what was just his fourth league appearance since joining the Reds in August 2020, with the pandemic and injury severely curtailing his availability since then.
The final score was one for the big boys. After good approach work by Monty Weatherby, cheered on by a large contingent from his former club, Sandbach in Cheshire, fellow prop Sam Grahamslaw battered through the tiring home defence to score under the posts.
Caldy did have the last word with a replacement prop’s try between the sticks of their own – Ryan Higginson the scorer – but in the 90 seconds that remained were unable to gain possession and bid for a bonus-point score.
The Championship now has a weekend off, with the Reds back in action on Friday October 21st, when Doncaster Knights will visit Stade Santander International for a game kicking off at 7.15pm. The Reds remained in second place in the table, with 24 points being one shy of the perfect return achieved by leaders Ealing Trailfinders, who won 56-19 at home to Richmond.
CALDY: Gourlay; Royle, Cartmill, Barlow, Bibby; Hinchliffe, Thomas; Aigbokhae, Hearn, Darlington, Dickinson S, Gerrard, Crowe, Ridgway, Dickinson J. Used subs: Clarke, Rushton, Higginson, Sanders, Parry, Hayes, Jones. Unused sub: Murray
JERSEY REDS: Owen; Lewis, Powell (Barnes 52), Holgate, Brown; Pittman, Mitchell (Law 56); McGrath (Grahamslaw h-t), Harris (Hadfield 67), Nicol (Weatherby 63), Everard (Scott 60), O’Connor, Cook, Argyle (Gray 66), Dun (YC 25).
REFEREE: Charlie Gayther. Assistants: Simon Park, Gregg Dawson
Half Time: 12-10
Tries: Royle 21, Bibby 25, Higginson78
Conversions: Hinchliffe 21, 78
Tries: Owen 12, Cook 31, Harris 47, Holgate 63, Hutler 62, Grahamslaw 71
Conversions: Pittman 47, 71
02 Dec 2022
Rivalry between two clubs enters its third decade