IT WAS a nightmare for the players at a cold, wet and windy Paton Field for Saturday’s National Two North League clash involving Caldy and table toppers Darlington Mowden Park.

Good rugby was out of the question and it was remarkable that both sides managed to put on some sort of spectacle for the hardy supporters.

In the end it finished 19-5 to Darlington but they were one score short of collecting a bonus point and Caldy could be pleased with their efforts against clearly superior opposition.

The diagonal gusting wind favoured the visitors in the first period and when they scored after just two minutes it looked ominous for Caldy.

But they stuck to their task admirably and restricted the opposition to just one more try before a hard earned interval break.

The home side were still very much in the game as the second period began but found it difficult to get out of their own half in the third quarter as the opposition piled on the pressure.

On one of the rare occasions they managed to break out into Darlington territory the visitors countered with a seventy metre dash for a conclusive third score.

Caldy at this stage were down to fourteen men but in the final quarter it was Darlington's turn to have a player sin binned and some terrific forward driving culminated in a deserved consolation Caldy score.

Darlington who were missing, among others, two of their most influential players including their skipper, on duty for England Counties in France, found space on the right for the opening try by Callum McKenzie.

Maxwell Connon added an unlikely goal and amazingly was again on target with the conversion after Chris Campbell nipped in for the second Darlington touch down on eighteen minutes.

Shaun McCartney was the visiting player to demonstrate his electric pace for the third try midway through the second period but Caldy to their great credit kept going well and used forward power to drive over for an unconverted try credited to Craig Smithson with less than five minutes on the clock.

Undoubtedly the weather was the real winner and the last blast from the referee was a relief to everyone.

The winners bemoaned the conditions which were clearly against their purist style but they departed with their highly rated reputation intact and two points clear at the top with Caldy down to 11th place in the table.

Hoylake had to settle for just a consolation try in a 5-14 away defeat at the hands of Winnington Park in a re-arranged South Lancashire/Cheshire One game with the East Cheshire side now above them in the lower half of the table.

The Division Three matches between Oldershaw and Knutsford and Buxton and Prenton were postponed.

New Brighton found no joy at Aspatria in the Intermediate Cup and went under 10-41.

Conditions were very demanding.

The Blues did manage a couple of first-half tries but were behind 10-27 at the interval and could not add to their tally later.

Aspatria in all scored five converted tries and a brace of penalties in a game in which both sides had a player red carded.

The defeat means March 15 is now a free Saturday for Brighton and they hope to fill it by playing their delayed Cheshire Vase semifinal at home to Crewe and Nantwich.

Caldy are on the road to Hull for their latest fixture this coming Saturday.

There are also challenging away trips for Birkenhead Park at Broughton Park and Wirral at Wigton.

New Brighton fly out to the Isle of Man to take on Douglas.

Anselmians are due at Northwich with Hoylake entertaining Glossop.

Other fixtures include Port Sunlight at Orrell, Wallasey v Southport, Ellesmere Port v Knutsford, Oldershaw v Linley and a Prenton v Oxton Parkonians derby.