HRFC save their home record with a late score

Hinckley Times - - SPORT -

HOR­NETS rounded off the year with a hard fought draw with bot­tom club Peter­bor­ough Li­ons who showed that their rel­e­ga­tion is far from in­evitable with a much im­proved dis­play to that which had seen Hor­nets run-away 48 -21 vic­tors ear­lier in the sea­son. In so do­ing, Hor­nets held on to this sea­son’s un­beaten home record … but it was a close run thing.

Hinck­ley go into the new year in 4th place in the ta­ble, equal on points with Hud­der­s­field who have a game in hand, and some 13 points be­hind lead­ers Hull Io­ni­ans.

Most clubs would be happy with that po­si­tion as we en­ter the sec­ond part of the sea­son but there is some­thing of an air of dis­ap­point­ment around Le­ices­ter Road after what proved a spec­tac­u­lar start to the sea­son. A top two fin­ish is still not be­yond Hor­nets, and with tal­is­man Alex Salt due to re­turn from in­jury in the New Year, there are still grounds for op­ti­mism but they will soon need to find the form that made them the team to beat early in the sea­son.

All was not doom and gloom on Satur­day. Re­cent sign­ing Ol­lie Povoas was out­stand­ing through­out, Hor­net’s line-out func­tioned much bet­ter, and there was no short­age of chances cre­ated but, as is often the case with a side lack­ing con­fi­dence, Hor­nets lacked the pre­ci­sion re­quired to con­vert those chances into points. It was im­mensely frus­trat­ing for what was Hor­net’s largest crowd of the sea­son.

It didn’t start well with Hor­nets in trou­ble from the start. Josh Smith failed to field the kick-off, hand­ing a scrum to Li­ons on Hinck­ley’s 10m line. From the scrum, Peter­bor­ough worked the ball up the pitch with alarm­ing ease and sec­ond row Tom Lewis rum­bled over to score. Ben Young kicked the ex­tras and Hor­nets were 7-0 down after 3 min­utes with­out hav­ing held the ball.

There was no lack of pos­ses­sion for the rest of the half though as Hinck­ley dom­i­nated but with­out manag­ing to re­flect that dom­i­nance on the score­board. Smith and James More­ton both went close be­fore los­ing the ball with the line beg­ging, and sev­eral other knock-ons from promis­ing po­si­tions meant that it was not un­til the 20th minute that Hor­nets were able to regis­ter their first points.

Joe Wil­son kicked a penalty to 10m out, Povoas drove on from the line-out and the ball even­tu­ally found it’s way to Aaron Phillips on the wing to round his man and score in the cor­ner. Wil­son couldn’t man­age the con­ver­sion but Hinck­ley were within 2.

From the kick-off, Hinck­ley re­cov­ered the ball, Povoas and then Jamie Skeritt drove Hor­nets into the 22 and, after a pa­tient, build-up, More­ton forced his way over to score un­der the posts. Wil­son’s con­ver­sion made it 12-7 and with Hinck­ley clearly in the as­cen­dant, the crowd sensed a po­ten­tial fes­tive bo­nanza.

But Li­ons re­fused to play their part and in­deed re-took the lead just 5 min­utes later. Hav­ing se­cured a line out on the Hinck­ley 10m line, a ram­pag­ing run from Lewis took them into the Hinck­ley 22m. The ball was worked across the field and cen­tre Suva Ma’asi went over in the cor­ner. A su­perb con­ver­sion from Young took the score to 12-14.

And that was how it stayed un­til half-time, al­though not be­fore Hor­nets had squan­dered the op­por­tu­nity to go in ahead, pre­fer­ring to scrum two penal­ties awarded in front of the posts on the cusp of half-time. The gam­ble did not pay off as Li­ons held up Mitch Lamb over the line to end pro­ceed­ings.

Peter­bor­ough came out much the stronger for the break, and Hinck­ley were for­tu­nate not to go fur­ther be­hind when Joe Glover was charged down 5m from his own line but the re­bound squirted harm­lessly for Phillip to fall on the ball un­chal­lenged.

As the third quar­ter drew to a close, a penalty for a high tackle on half-way al­lowed Li­ons to kick to 5m. From the line-out, a rum­ble form the for­wards failed to make the line but the ball was re­leased to find re­place­ment wing Si­mona Veikune who broke sev­eral at­tempted tack­les to force his way over and ex­tend the Li­ons lead to 12-19.

Hor­nets clawed it back 10 min­utes later when Li­ons were pe­nalised on half­way and Wil­son kicked to 5m. A well ex­e­cut- ed catch and drive from the line-out saw Ben Mar­shall force his way over and Wil­son added the ex­tras.

The last 10 min­utes were some­thing of a tense af­fair with both teams hav­ing an op­por­tu­nity to snatch the win at the death. As it hap­pened, the de­fences held and the game ended with Peter­bor­ough hoof­ing the ball into their own dead- ball area to com­mence the cel­e­bra­tions. A draw was prob­a­bly a fair re­sult, but the re­ac­tion of the play­ers clearly showed which team ap­pre­ci­ated the points the most.

Hor­nets do not play again un­til Jan­uary 5 when they will visit Wharfedale. The break will be a wel­come break for a squad who look in need of a well earned rest.

Hor­nets’ prop David Peck in the thick of things for Hinck­ley RFC. Pic­ture: Steve Wells

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