Hinckley Extinguish Forest Fire
Match Report: Hinckley 17 v 7 Leicester Forest 11 March 2018 by Andy Duggins
A win is a win as they say, but a somewhat lacklustre Hinckley U14s made hard work of this eagerly awaited County Cup semi-final against a fired up Leicester Forest side.
Following a three week lay-off due to the beast from the east, Hinckley kicked off on a pleasantly mild spring morning. The opening exchanges were predictably tense, both sides making handling errors and giving away penalties for poor discipline. The two teams’ defences were equally solid, Hutton, Barnes and Fountaine putting in notable tackles early on for the black and ambers.
Hinckley soon started to get the better of their opposition, strong runs from Underwood and Golding taking them into Forest’s 22. Hinckley maintained possession and the ball was popped to Jacques in midfield who crashed through the Forest defence to score Hinckley’s opening try under the posts. Drakeford converted to give Hinckley a 7-0 lead.
Forest retaliated from the re-start, switching to a “Nuneaton-esque” kicking game to try and disrupt Hinckley’s momentum, but Golding was on hand to gather the ball superbly on his own 22m line. Hinckley launched another attack from a line-out on the halfway line, Burton ploughing through the midfield at pace with Miller in support. The ball was recycled and Hinckley pressed forward through runs by Underwood, Smith and Moore, but Forest’s stubborn defence held firm.
Hinckley eventually broke through to score their second try, Jacques taking another crash ball to blast through the opposition from 10 metres out and increase Hinckley’s lead to 12-0 as the conversion bounced back off the upright.
As half-time approached, Hinckley continued to dominate territory and possession, with breaks from Moore, Goodwin and Allen taking them deep into Forest’s half; but their dogged defence held out.
Hinckley started the second half in a similar manner, Goodwin and Underwood making good ground with strong runs. Forest continued to resist and counter-attacked but a crunching tackle from Jacques stopped them in their tracks. Hinckley came close to try number three as they attacked from a scrum, Fountaine taking them into the opposition’s 22. Burton took Hinckley close with another bullocking run from a penalty, following which the ball was shipped out wide through Allen and Moore who found Golding in support, but he was tackled into touch metres short of the try line.
Forest cleared their lines and were awarded a penalty on the halfway line, taking the interesting decision to go for the three points. The kick fell some way short, but Hinckley were penalised for not retreating the full 10m and from the resulting penalty Forest kicked through and pounced on the loose ball over the try-line to score, reducing the deficit to a nervous 12-7 as the conversion went over.
Hinckley responded and went back on the offensive as the game re-commenced, Barnes breaking from the scrum, taking the black and ambers into Forest’s 22. Hinckley came close to another score as Toon and Drakeford combined brilliantly from a line-out but the final pass went astray and Forest escaped again.
Hinckley counter-attacked following another Forest kick and chase, Jacques with a typically bullish run through the midfield with Drakeford in support who was tackled 5m short of Forest’s line. Burton was on hand to pick up from the ensuing ruck and smash his way over for Hinckley’s third try. The superbly struck conversion from the touchline fell just short, but Hinckley’s lead had increased to 17-7 much to the relief of the home supporters.
Hinckley continued to dominate both territory and possession as the game entered the final quarter, Allen, Goodwin, Moore and Duggins all making notable runs. Hinckley were then reduced to 14 players after a yellow card. Forest took advantage, attacking from the resulting penalty, but a fantastic covering tackle by McManus prevented a potential second Forest try.
Hinckley initiated their final attack in the penultimate play of the game through a jinking Allen run from within his own half. Jacques was in support and galloped down the wing but was bundled into touch by another excellent Forest tackle. Forest ran back at Hinckley from the line-out but were met with solid tackles from Barnes and Toon.
The ball eventually went into touch to end a very competitive, physical and slightly nervy game of rugby, Hinckley winning by 17-7 to maintain their unbeaten run and march into the County Cup final.