Wharfedale 44 Hinckley 19
Lack-lustre Hornets soundly beaten
A lack lustre performance from Hornets against a struggling Wharfedale side fighting for their divisional life, saw ‘Dale’s ‘green machine’ inflict Hinckley’s heaviest defeat of the season at the Avenue. Wharfedale ran in six tries to Hinckley’s three, eventually running out 44-19 victors.
Hinckley can have no complaints. There was a distinct ‘end-of-season’ feel to their performance while ‘Dale, locked in a relegation dog-fight, were hungry for victory. With nothing to play for but pride, the Hornets’ display was perhaps not surprising but nevertheless disappointing with DOR George Chuter looking to build some momentum in readiness for next season’s campaign.
Wharfedale’s Avenue ground is arguably the most picturesque setting in the Division and there was indeed a hint of spring in the air as kick-off approached. The pitch was perhaps a little heavy but still a credit to the ‘Dale ground staff considering recent weather conditions, and with no wind to speak of the crowd settled in for what they hoped would be a rugby feast.
There was little to choose between the sides in the early exchanges but it was ‘Dale who drew first blood. A poor kick out of defence by Hinckley gave Dale a chance to run the ball back at Hinckley from the 10m line. Second row Kieran Frost eventually crashed over to give ‘Dale the lead, and fly-half Tom Barrett added the extras.
Barrett extended the lead on 20 minutes with a penalty from 30m out, but Hornets hit back shortly afterwards when a superb break from Rhodri Tanner on halfway eventually saw Joe Glover go over in the corner. The conversion was missed to leave the score at 10-5.
With the half drawing to a close, ‘Dale were caught off-side on their own 22m allowing Joe Wilson to set up a catch and drive opportunity. The drive went down just short of the line but quick ball from Glover allowed Joe Wilson to go over to level the scores. Wilson converted to give Hinckley a 12-10 with half time imminent.
‘Dale were not done, however. Dale scrum half and captain Phil Woodhead took advantage of poor fringe defence at the breakdown to break from half-way with only Wilson to beat. Woodhead kicked ahead but was badly obstructed by Wilson in the chase. The referee went under the posts for a penalty try, and Wilson was sent to the bin for a ten minute break. The penalty try award was at best questionable but it could equally be argued that Wilson was fortunate to escape with a yellow card.
‘Dale were quick to capitalise when, on the resumption, Frost crashed over for his second try following some poor Hinckley tackling which should have seen him bundled into touch some way out. The conversion was missed.
Hinckley responded on 38 minutes when a quick tap penalty by Glover, taken on by Mitch Lamb, allowed Gaz Turner Lamb to go over. Glover converted to bring the score back to 25-19 and a Hornets win still looked possible.
Hinckley then squandered at least 2 try scoring opportunities before Woodhead again broke away on half-way and, with the Hinckley cover absent, went over under the posts. Barrett converted.
On 72 minutes, ‘Dale extended their lead when winger Cicognini intercepted on half-way to go over, and 5 minutes later Barrett broke from halfway, chipped ahead and collected to go under the posts. His conversion took the score to 44-19 and there was no way back for the Hornets. Their frustration boiled over a few minutes later when Lewis Snowden picked up the teams first red card of the season.
‘Dale were worthy winners but there was no doubt that Hinckley had every opportunity to take the spoils. Chances, which earlier in the season would have been converted, came and went and some occasional sloppy defending belied the fact that Hinckley have one of the strongest defences in the division.
Next week Hinckley take on Chester at Leicester Road in their last home game of the season. Hornets have yet to defeat Chester since promotion to National 2 and a strong performance against a side likely to finish in the top eight would go some way to making the statement that George Chuter is looking for.