Sheffield Tigers 7, Caldy 37

SECOND-placed Caldy travelled to fourth-placed Sheffield Tigers in an early test of the Wirral side's ability to bounce back after last season's relegation.

The Tigers had started the season brightly with a home victory over a strong Chester side and last week won on the road against Scunthorpe.

A win for Caldy would be a statement of intent but with the quality possessed by the Tigers it was not going to be easy.

Unlike most games at Dore Moor the game was played in benign warm conditions.

To be successful, Caldy had to up their game from a rather lethargic display the previous week against Chester and the increase in intensity and performance was very noticeable.

The Caldy attack was good, sometimes very good, but their defensive game was awesome.

With the half-back pair of Cameron Davis and Lewis Barker marshalling the play behind a dominant Caldy pack, it took only six minutes for stand off Barker to crash over and set up the pattern for the rest of the game.

Stifling, suffocating, shattering ... any number of adverbs and adjectives could apply to Caldy's defensive line, which put the home side under so much pressure scores were bound to come.

The second score came from the powerful Caldy captain JJ Dickinson to take score out to 0-12 on the 15-minute mark.

When the home side secured attacking ball Caldy's defence just removed all hope from the very potent Tigers backline as they were repeatedly hit hard behind the gain line.

Midway through the half they manged to just about get outside the Caldy wall until a shuddering tackle by winger Ben Jones stopped the attack in its tracks.

Whatever the Tigers tried nothing worked against the Caldy wall, the Tigers couldn't go through it, couldn't go around it and the odd time they tried to go over it the Caldy attack pounced on any wayward kicks.

Tigers did have a chance to press the Caldy line mid-way through the first half when they hung onto possession for a good five or six minutes.

However, starting with pressure on the five-metre line the intensity of the Caldy defence drove them back to outside the 22-metre line by the time they finally spilled up the ball.

This was the pattern of the match and a good Tigers side had no effective means to unlock Caldy's defensive cordon.

Late in the half Caldy scored another try through the giant Tom Sanders converted by centre Gav Roberts who also kicked two long range penalties to put the visitors 25 points ahead at the break.

Sheffield Tigers pushed hard after the break, but the pattern of the game was on a repeat loop and Caldy picked up two further tries; the first from the mercurial Lewis Barker after sparkling interplay with Ben Jones and the final score from winger Ben Jones whose good all-round display was rewarded with a well taken score.

It took until late in the second half for a piece of typical brilliance from the evergreen Peter Swatkins to get the Tigers onto the scoreboard but by then the game had well and truly gone.

This wasn't quite a master class from the Wirral side as their electric winger Nick Royle ended the match without scoring when he should have bagged a hat trick if the final ball had been delivered to him at the right time.

Nevertheless, it was a very good performance from all 20 in the Caldy match day squad.