Hornets blow their chance
Hornets missed their chance to go second in the League
Hornets missed their chance to go second in the League with a lack lustre performance against an Otley side that offered little but a big pack of forwards that bullied the Hinckley pack for much of the game. For the third time this season, in wet conditions, Hornets failed to master a limited team whose game plan amounted to little beyond battering the opposition with hard running forwards.
Mathematically, Hornets are not yet out of the promotion race occupying third position, one point behind Stourbridge who suffered a heavy defeat against leaders Sale. But all their rivals have a game in hand (Tynedale have two) and with six to play, Hinckley are now very definitely the outsiders in the race. Three defeats in the last five games does not suggest promotion winning form.
It all started so well for the Black and Ambers. Within 2 minutes, a typical barn-storming run from captain Alex Salt from his own 22m line was carried on by Mitch Lamb and ended with Callum Dacey going over. Joe Wilson though missed a relatively easy conversion in what proved an omen for the rest of the match.
Otley soon began to impose themselves on the game. The first scrum saw Hinckley pushed off the ball and a penalty award to Otley. Joe Rowntree missed that attempt but was on target a couple of minutes later when Hinckley were again penalised in the scrum.
Hornet’s continued to struggle up front. A further scrum penalty award led to Otley kicking for the corner from just inside their own half and a well executed catch and drive saw flanker Tom O’Donnell break away to cross the line. The conversion was missed but Otley led 5-8 with their pack looking increasingly dominant.
Some changes saw Peck come on and Glover come off the bench to replace the injured Josh Smith with Tak Osaki moving to the wing.
Matters did improve. Hinckley at least achieved parity for the rest of the game in the scrum, but the battle between Peck and Otley loose-head George Burkinshaw became one of the sub-plots of the game. The referee obviously enjoyed their company, issuing multiple lectures to both men until Burkinshaw was eventually replaced in the second half.
Hinckley almost retook the lead on the half hour when a break from his own 22m by Scott Hamilton almost resulted in a second try for Dacey before he was bundled into touch. Joe Glover actually crossed the line a few minutes later but the referee adjudged a knock-on in the ruck immediately beforehand, and Hornets had to go in behind at the break.
Joe Wilson levelled the scores shortly after the break with a penalty from the Otley 22m after a scrum offence, but driving rain destroyed any ambition by either side for much of the half.
It was Otley who broke the deadlock on 65 minutes. A line-out on the Hinckley 22m led to a catch and drive which the Hinckley pack simply could not contain, and O’Donnell went over for his second score of the match. Rowntree converted.
Wilson had an opportunity to close the gap 3 minutes later with a penalty from 40m, but the attempt went wide, and Hornets were left needing a converted try in the closing minutes to share the points.
They almost did it. With just two minutes remaining of regular time, a kick to the corner set up a line-out, and Gaz Turner eventually touched down from a well worked catch and drive. Wilson’s conversion attempt though went wide to conclude a disappointing day for him. Otley then simply wound down the clock to take the points.
Hinckley have another break next week before a visit to bottom side Luctonians on March 24. With all their near rivals in action over the coming weekend, however, the top of the table will look a lot clearer by that time and Hornets will know the size of the task ahead of them.