Hull Ionians 27
CALDY finished their highly impressive season on the high their players and backroom staff deserved with this hard-fought victory over a strong Hull Ionians side, a game that could have gone either way right down to the last minute of the game.
In bright sunshine and on an immaculate pitch, Caldy showed the resilience and fighting spirit that has served them so well throughout the season to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat.
The early parts of the game were dominated by the tackling of one man - Andrew Barnish, in his first National League start.
The wing man put in several big hits as well as some mazy running, causing the opposition problems every time he got the ball.
After seven minutes Caldy got on the score sheet when pressure in the Hull Ionians 22 saw a looping ball miss the Ionians defence and Andrew Soutar scored an excellent try in the corner. Gavin Roberts missed the conversion from out wide.
Three minutes later came the try of the day as Caldy hooker Neil Dowridge, after good work by Sam Dickinson, weaved in and out - brushing off tackles to score under the posts, Roberts converting to make it 12-0.
Immediately from the kick-off Ionians seemed to come to life and their pressure within the Caldy 22 metre line led to a free kick. James Ferguson, the Ionians fly half, saw a gap and found Gary Stephenson, the Ionians wingman, who coasted in for a try. Ferguson converted to close the gap to five points.
On 21 minutes, a clever break from John Broxson down the right-hand side saw him unselfishly feed support man Soutar who managed to find Roberts out wide to touch down in the corner and then converted his own try to make it 7-19.
And that is how it stayed despite a penalty miss from each kicker until the last minute of the first half, when a penalty was awarded to Ionians which Ferguson easily dispatched to make it 10-19 at half-time.
Hull came out of the blocks like a sprinter at the start of the second half with first Richard Whittam and then Dan Smith scoring tries within two minutes of each other. Both were solo 40-metre sprints down the right wing, resulting in converted tries which turned the scoreboard on its head.
After 44 minutes Ionians led 24-19 and after recent weeks, and recent defeats, Caldy supporters started to panic.
Substitutions were made by Caldy with both Sam Dickinson and Shaun Woof leaving the field through injury and being replaced by JJ Dickinson and Matt Pennington.
Minutes later Olly Cooper and Dave Mercer were also introduced and it seemed to have the desired effect for coach Matt Holt.
Both sides managed to get another penalty each and the score stood at 27-22 until the 64th minute when livewire Cooper took the ball from the scrum-half position and weaved through gaps before touching down under the posts to level the scores.
Roberts made no mistake with the conversion to give Caldy a two-point lead, 27-29.
Ionians then piled on the pressure in the final 15, but some excellent defence from players including Dave Mercer, Jake Lyon and Derek Salisbury meant that Caldy time and time again got out of trouble and secured a deserved win.