National Three (North) leaders Caldy emphasised their promotion credentials in the best possible way by taking a maximum five league points through a deserved 33-23 win over 3rd placed Fylde at Paton Field.
Apart from the scrummages in which Fylde had an advantage, the Lancastrians were second best in most other aspects of the game against the accomplished Cheshire side.
Caldy started the match in the best possible way. On five minutes they launched an attack and a grubber kick through intended for winger Ian Murray bounced back off a Fylde boot into Caldy hands.
The home side moved the ball left and a clean backline movement resulted in winger Andrew Soutar scoring a neat try.
Goal kicking centre Gavin Roberts converted and his side had a 7-0 lead.
Four minutes later Fylde debutant lock Oliver Atkinson drove into contact but spilled the ball, allowing Caldy to counter attack through their backs. Once again, smooth passing put a winger clear, this time left wing Ian Murray, and he raced through to score wide out.
Roberts’ attempted conversion drifted wide but Caldy had a handsome 12-0 lead.
This was turning into an end to end contest as Fylde took the attack to their hosts.
Caldy prop Ian Critchley infringed 30m out and visiting fly-half Steve Nutt kicked the resultant penalty to reduce the deficit.
Fylde kept up the pressure with a lineout near the Caldy line on 15 minutes.
The Lancastrians lost the ball on their own throw, not for the only time during the game as it transpired, but from a subsequent scrummage Caldy were penalised again and once more Nutt made them pay with the penalty kick to reduce the deficit to 6-12.
After 20 minutes, Fylde were the transgressors as they were caught offside by referee Trevor Fisher. Roberts kicked the goal to extend Caldy’s lead.
Fylde had flashes of fluent movement and from one of these Steve Nutt broke beautifully but with the line at his mercy winger Oliver Brennand knocked on from a rather difficult pass.
The home side had a setback on 31 minutes when veteran lock Paul White was injured and replaced by another former Waterloo forward, Dave Mercer.
It hardly seemed to matter for, on 36 minutes Caldy attacked once more and a smart backs move saw impressive fullback Mark Turner race through for his side’s third try.
Robert’s conversion gave his side a dominating and a deserved 22-6 lead at the break.
Fylde got back into the contest early in the 2nd half when they won a lineout 5m from the Caldy line.
After a fiercely contested maul the Fylde pack edged over the Caldy line and hooker Alan Holmes got the touchdown.
Nutt converted well and the deficit was down to 13-22.
Caldy always seemed to have the ability to step up a gear when threatened.
They were playing simple, straightforward rugby with good running and superb support play.
When ever a player was tackled there seemed to a man on his shoulder to take the offload and keep the ball in play.
Fylde’s defence was frequently at sea and they conceded two further penalties on 49 & 53 minutes, both converted by Roberts for a 28-13 lead.
Worse was to come for the visitors as an excellent Caldy move ended with replacement flanker Mercer finishing things off in style for their fourth and bonus point try and a 33-13 lead.
By this time, Fylde threw on a couple of replacements in the form of prop Andrew Irving in place of Darren Clark and flanker Mark Stephenson, making his first league appearance in the claret & gold, for Dan Palmer.
Fylde belatedly upped their effort and pressure and put in a good final quarter.
On 60 minutes a Fylde kick ahead bounced extravagantly near the Caldy line and Canadian international Atkinson pounced on the loose ball to score a debut try on his first, impressive appearance for the Club.
Nutt’s attempted conversion hit the post but at least his side had reduced the deficit somewhat, behind by 18-33.
Fylde had the bit between their teeth now and put more late pressure on the home defence.
Oliver Brennand made another dangerous run and seemed destined to score before a last second tap tackle by Roberts brought him down and the danger was cleared.
On 66 minutes a series of Fylde scrummages near the Caldy line at last ended when no 8 Sam Beaumont broke from the backrow, fed scrum-half Craig Aikman and he put in winger Jordan Davies for the young man’s debut try in his third start for the Woodlands club. Nutt’s conversion again went wide.
This turned out to be the final score of the game as, deservedly, Caldy held out to take the North West’s bragging rights.
In that final quarter Fylde hinted what might have been possible if they had adopted a more adventurous approach much earlier in the game and had tightened their rather pourous defence.
Nevertheless, Caldy were the better side on the day and took another step in persuading everyone that they are indeed serious and worthy promotion contenders.