Match Report - Hornets 27 Ivybridge 19
Hornets sign off their National League season and say farewell to Jack Gadd, Jon Richardson and Sean Disney with an impressive win over Ivybridge
MATCH REPORT – HORNETS (12) 27 IVYBRIDGE (14) 14 – Saturday 22 April 2017
Scorers:- Tries – Courtney Harris, Oscar James, Connor Littlewood (2). Cons – Charlie Carter (2). Pens – Charlie Carter (1)
Hornets brought the coaching era of Jack Gadd and Jon Richardson to an end with an impressive win over Ivybridge. The Devon club went into the game looking to finish the season in third spot, but Hornets’ bonus point win over them means they slip to sixth in the table, whilst Hornets themselves climb one place to finish a respectable eighth in a league that has been very tough and which at the end has only 9 points separating the team in third place and the team in ninth.
Sean Disney captained the side and led them onto the pitch in what might be his last game for a club he joined as an u10 due to moving to Devon for a new job. With the coaching team of Jack Gadd, who joined the club as an u7, and Jon Richardson also moving on, and a packed crowd in attendance following a Patrons lunch, there was a good incentive for the players to put in a good performance.
In sunny conditions, Hornets started brightly and had the best of the early physical exchanges. In an early attack Danny Bailey latched onto a clever kick through from Disney, but was held up just short. A penalty was awarded and from the resulting lineout the forwards drove over, but were adjudged to have been held up over the line. From the scrum Matt Parker crashed his way to the line and when the ball was recycled Courtney Harris was on hand to dart over. Charlie Carter converted for a 7-0 lead on 5 minutes.
Ivybridge then forced their way into the game, playing quick attractive rugby in the same vein as the hosts and also gaining the upper hand in early scrums. Ivybridge looked the likely next scorers, until a quick break down the narrow side found Oscar James in a bit of space in his own half. He fended off the first tackler and having found space to use his pace, rounded the second and streaked away to score and extend the lead to 12-0.
However, Ivybridge continued to have the upper hand for the remainder of the first half and by the interval had registered two scores of their own to go into the break with a 12-14 lead.
The game was on a knife edge and could have gone either way, but it was the home side who responded best. Head coach for the day, Jon Richardson, freshened things up by making changes early in the first half, bringing on Ben Fry and Lewis Brake for Connor Littlewood and Parker and then continued to ring the changes regularly during the second half which seemed to give more focus and urgency to the Hornets players.
Early in the second half, with tensions rising, both sides lost a player to a yellow card and a long period of stalemate followed. It was Sonny Haines who changed the tempo of the game. Picking the ball up inside his own 22 and going on a rampaging run and battering all before him before he was eventually dragged down by three defenders on the Ivybridge 22. The ball was recycled and Hornets were stopped just short, but suddenly they had some momentum.
A penalty soon followed which Charlie Carter kicked to nudge Hornets into a 15-14 league and then Hornets clicked into action. A series of phases saw the forwards make good ground and when the ball was moved wide Adam Francis cleverly switched the ball back inside where Littlewood was on hand to dart over to score.
Littlewood then completely stole the show with a magnificent individual try which saw him gather a pas just inside the Ivybridge half, throw a series of dummies and outrageous side steps before diving over the line and touching down despite the attendance of two tacklers. Carter converted and Hornets looked home a dry.
A nervous 10 minutes followed with Ivybridge throwing everything they had at Hornets, but solid defending meant that they were kept at bay until the last play when an unconverted try pulled the score back to 27-19, leaving the Devon side just short of a losing bonus point.
Hornets will be very happy with their days work and overall happy with their season which has shown that they continue to be competitive at this level and can look forward to a fourth season of National League rugby next season. They will also take some pleasure at sending Ivybridge back to Devon with nothing to show for their efforts, as when Ivybridge narrowly beat Hornets 9-7 on the opening day of the season they sent the boys on their way by wishing them luck in SW1 next season. This is something the Hornets have remembered from that opening day and were determined to put right when the sides met again. Job done!
As is my job now done as my spell as Press Officer comes to and end. I am pleased to be able to sign off with another great win and it has been a pleasure following the team around for the last 5 years, reporting on their many successes. Thank you for letting me be part of a success story that will always be looked back on by the club as one of the highlights of its growing history.