Hinckley gain promotion to N2N in final countdown
Tries from Ben Avent, Luke Coltman, Mark Deaville, Ben Marshall and Mitch Culpin. Joe Glover adds one conversion and two penalties.
Hinckley entertained N3N club Wirral RFC in the North/Midlands play off game at Leicester Road. A winner take all contest with the prize being promotion to N2N, rightly billed as the most important game in Hinckley’s recent history.
Hinckley selected probably their strongest side with Sam Greasley, Mitch Culpin and Mark Deaville back in the fold. A bench made up of Ewan Bartlett, Josh Smith, Ben Marshall and Phil McQueen completed the line up.
Wirral kicked off down the slope and for the first ten minutes monopolised possession and probed for the initial opening with some well judged grubber touch finders turning the home defence. From a resultant line out and inaccurate box kick out of defence the Wirral backs ran the ball back and scored a well worked try wide out in the bottom corner. The conversion was wide and from a Hinckley point of view things weren't exactly going to plan as the home side were hesitant and nervous in the execution of all things basic. Eventually after twenty minutes Hinckley got things together and from a driving maul Ben Avent got over for the equalising score. Joe Glover’s conversion went the way of his opponents kick and it was all square.
Glover was yellow carded on the advice of an assistant referee and almost immediately Wirral converted a penalty goal to regain the lead after the Hinckley backs were caught offside in front of their own posts. They added a converted try just before half time to increase their lead to 5-15 and the Hinckley plan was certainly wobbling. However, The home side dug deep and silenced the vociferous visiting supporters with another driving maul try with Luke Coltman getting the touchdown although Glover couldn’t add the conversion.
Half time Hinckley 10 points Wirral 15 points.
After both teams were kept waiting by the officials Hinckley started the second half with a bang as the home pack took the game by the scruff of the neck. No doubt reacting to some forthright words of encouragement from the coaching team they rampaged into the visitors with Matt Fearn, Alex Salt, Steve Harvey and Coltman leading the charge. Rampager in chief Mark Deaville broke away and reached out to score a fine try to level the scores at 15 points apiece, capping what was probably his best game in a Black and Amber shirt this season. Glover couldn’t add the conversion. Hinckley lost captain Salt to a yellow card, but while he was away Glover found his kicking boots to add a straight 45 metre penalty and an easier penalty to his tally and move Hinckley out to a 21-15 lead on the hour mark. Back came Wirral with an unconverted try to get back to 21-20. The crucial moment in the game came with Wirral missing an eminently kickable penalty after the aforementioned assistant referee intervened again and this time Fearn was yellow carded for obstruction. Hinckley had handled playing with fourteen men well over this period, but when the Wirral No8 had his ten minute sojourn in the bin with nine minutes left on the clock the hosts took control. Further driving play from the home forwards and some astute quick hands from the backs enabled Ben Marshall to burrow his way over the line with support from his colleagues with Glover adding the conversion for a 28-20 lead. Mitch Culpin scored Hinckley’s fifth try on the stroke of full time although Glover couldn’t add the conversion. The game ended with a 33-20 scoreline to Hinckley and promotion at the second time of asking.
Understandably Wirral were gutted to lose as Hinckley were last season at Sandal (who incidentally were relegated yesterday) as they played their part in a nail biting contest that wasn’t really decided, as at Scunthorpe, with nine minutes left on the clock. What is it with nine minutes and winning or losing?
Such narrow margins to decide the outcome of a long season and ultimately promotion!
Congratulations to all at Hinckley RFC and commiserations to Wirral RFC.
Hinckley now look forward to visiting new opponents, renewing old rivalries and being involved in local derbies with Leicester Lions and South Leicester (who again incidentally preserved their N2N status yesterday)
Not forgetting the County Cup Final at Welford Road versus Melton RFC this coming Tuesday evening 3rd May kick off 7.30pm.