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Late Stephen Depledge try sends Otley players into raptures
Buy this photo » Otley's left winger Christopher Dyson bravely steps up to halt Caldy full back Andrew Soutar in his tracks and prevent a certain try in the tenth minute
Otley 31, Caldy 27
It looked like it was going to be one of those frustrating afternoons for Otley.
In what was an eminently winnable SSE National League Two North match, they had led 17-6 but conceded three converted tries in eight minutes to go 27-17 behind as the first half neared its close.
They managed to get that back to 27-24 in first-half injury time but then weren’t in Caldy’s half for the opening 20 minutes of the second period.
Otley then dominated the closing stages, only to be denied by defiant defence, and they didn’t retake the lead until the last play of the match.
Having battered at the visitors for what seemed like minutes of driving off the side of mauls deep in the 22, Otley’s replacement scrum half Stephen Depledge finally saw a chink in Caldy’s armour.
He sneaked through it in the second minute of stoppage time and dived over for the match-winning try, fly half Mark Ireland adding some gloss with a fine touchline conversion.
Depledge, who had replaced Mark Cooke in the 49th minute, said: “What we had been trying wasn’t working so I went myself.”
The victory was Otley’s fourth in five matches and lifted them a place to fifth but director of rugby James Tiffany conceded afterwards that winless Caldy were the best side they had faced this season.
Both fly halves looked composed, and Caldy’s Richard Vasey landed two penalties to Ireland’s one before Otley’s first try.
They pinched possession and Ireland moved the attack right for winger Harry Hudson to step inside.
Ireland converted that and lock Jon Stannard’s try in the 27th minute as Otley moved 17-6 in front, only to be hit by a 21-point burst in eight minutes.
Caldy travelled in St Helens’ team bus and at times played with the intensity and verve of their rugby league cousins, right winger Ben Eaves (2) and portly skipper Derek Salisbury scoring tries that were all converted by Ireland.
Otley’s tackling was below par and it needed a converted penalty try in first-half stoppage time with Caldy lock Tom Sanders in the sin bin to put them back within touching distance at 27-24.
It took Otley a further 20 minutes to get back in Caldy’s half but, despite Sanders’ yellow card and Otley centre Chris Gemmell’s sin-binning for an illegal tackle in the 48th minute, there was no score for the next 40 minutes.
Caldy hooker Christian Jones was sin-binned for a technical offence in the 69th minute as Otley ratcheted up the pressure, refusing chances to kick at goal.
But it wasn’t until Caldy replacement prop Joshua-Grant Butler was yellow-carded in the 80th minute that the scoreboard finally moved on.
Otley skipper Adam Blades had been held up over the line in the 74th minute but Caldy’s body blow came eight minutes later when Depledge triumphantly dived over the line to send the home players into raptures.
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