Last week’s stunning victory against previously high-flying Stourbridge, will have perhaps confirmed to the Leicester Road faithful that promotion is more than a dream. A 5-try to nil score line away to the early season title favourites would strongly suggest that this Hinckley squad does have the quality and strength in depth to be able to seize the title.
This week, the Hornets return to Leicester Road to continue their campaign against bottom of the table Wharfedale, a side struggling this season to recapture former glories. ‘Dale’, as they are known to their supporters, spent over 20 seasons competing in National 1 before being relegated in 2015/16, primarily as a result of being unable to compete financially with more affluent clubs from the South of the country. A proud village club with a long history and strong support within the community, Dale also happens to be situated in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales which makes their Avenue ground one of the most beautiful sporting venues to visit in the country.
Last season Hinckley finished one place above Dale in National 2 North but it has to be said, Dale probably had the better of the head to head encounters. The Hornets were well beaten 51-33 on their visit to the Avenue, and only just edged the return fixture 31-30 with Joe Glover converting a penalty with the last kick of the game.
This season’s stats, however, would suggest that this should be a comfortable victory for the Hornets. Dale have clocked up only 2 victories this season and are firmly in the relegation mire, standing bottom on 12 points, 1 point behind Sheffield and 6 behind Otley. Hinckley have not lost at home since March and have averaged in excess of 44 points in their 7 home games. ‘Dale’ have managed only 18 points a game over their campaign.
That said, Dale are travelling on the back of a first home victory against South Leicester which will undoubtedly have buoyed up their spirits. Their coach had asked his team to ‘fight like dogs’ and his players responded with a hard tackling performance that knocked South off their stride. Their pack in particular performed well, with their front three suggesting that Dave Peck and company will not have it all their own way this Saturday.
All the signs favour Hinckley but Dale cannot be underestimated. On their day, any side in this division is capable of beating any other and complacency may be the Hornet’s worst enemy on Saturday. News from the dug-out is that we have a few injuries but nothing long-term. Joe Wilson, Ben Marshall and Ben Avent are all out on Saturday. Joe Wilson is likely to be available for the Chester game after having to be replaced at Stourbridge. Ben Marshall turned his ankle on Saturday and may be out until after Christmas. Ben Avent is resting a lingering neck problem. In addition, Luke Coltman, as the old man of the squad, is being rested.
Elsewhere, second placed Tynedale, level on points with Hinckley, host a smarting Stourbridge this weekend. A tight game there would give the Hornets the chance to open up a clear gap at the top of the table as we enter the second half of the season. We are al set for a cracking game. Come on you Hinckley boys!
Updated 14:40 - 11 Dec 2017 by John Tilley