Park Lane, home to Sedgley Park Tigers, was the scene of yet another away defeat for Hinckley on Saturday, their ninth from their last ten fixtures on the road. This was no heroic failure either as Hornets were soundly beaten by a team who themselves have had a frustrating season not dissimilar to Hinckley’s.
There were a few bright spots – Jamie Skerritt and Jack Dickinson were both prominent for Hinckley, Ben Pointon was a thorn in Sedgley’s side for much of the game, and Callum Dacey always looked dangerous with ball in hand and made a try saving tackle which few others, if any, would have been quick enough to even attempt – but collectively there was little to shout about. It is difficult to comprehend how a side who had so effectively put high flying Chester to the sword just a week ago could turn in such an abject performance against what in theory was lower ranking opposition.
DOR George Chuter could not hide his annoyance after the game. ‘It was a really disappointing performance, particularly in the first half when we played probably our worst rugby of the season. There was a definite end-of-season feel within the team which translated into a lack of effort and commitment. We had a few choice words at half-time and I was pleased to see that the lads did respond in the third quarter but Sedgley changed their approach towards the end of the second half and put another two tries past us. In the end, the result was probably a fair reflecetion of the game’.
Hinckley’s start last week against Chester was spectacular with two tries in the first five minutes which effectively killed the game as a contest. This week, Hornets conceded two tries in the first five minutes and the effect was similar.
The first came when Hornets lost the ball in their own 22m area. Sedgley snaffled the ball and Steve Collins put a clever grubber kick into the corner for wing Sam Lowthion to touch down.
Collins missed the conversion but two minutes later Hinckley gifted a second try when an appalling pass to no-one on the Hinckley 10m line was picked up by Sedgley and fed left for winger Richard Lepori to run in from 30m unopposed.
Collins again couldn’t add the extras but it was 10-0 after just six minutes.
It got worse for Hornets as the game entered the second quarter. With Hinckley defending 30m from their own line, Collins took advantage of an enormous hole in Hinckley’s defence to run through into the 22m. Collins was brought down but the Tigers worked the ball to the line and hooker Danny Maher forced his way over for the score. This time Collins did convert to put the Tigers 17 in front.
Hornets did though pull one back on the half-hour. A penalty awarded when Joe Wilson was taken out in the air on halfway was kicked to 20m. The line-out ball was won, and a succession of pick and drives took Hornets just short of the line when Sedgley were caught offside. A quick tap from Josh Smith was fed to Ben Pointon who rounded the defence to score under the posts. Wilson converted.
17-7 at the break flattered Hornets and gave the visiting support some hope that, with the stiff breeze behind them in the second half, Hinckley may yet be able to turn the game round.
And there was some evidence in the first ten minutes that Chuter’s ‘choice words’ at half time had made an impact. Hornets came out early from the break and were all set to go well before Tigers made an appearance.
From the kick-off, Sedgley were penalised. Wilson’s kick went over and at 17-10, Hinckley were back in it.
Hornets, could not however convert their brief period of dominance into points and it was Tigers who scored next to claim the bonus point and effectively kill off any lingering hopes of a Hinckley recovery as the game entered the final quarter. A break on halfway was fed left to Lepori who ran in unchallenged from 30m. Collins converted.
Sedgley’s final try came when second-row Bob Birtwell breached the Hinckley defence, eventually forcing his way over after a prolonged period of sustained Tigers pressure in the Hinckley 22m. Collins converted to take the score to 31-10 and the game fizzled out with little further of note.
Hornets have now slipped to eighth in the table, just in the top half, and are now playing very much for pride. It is to be hoped that, having headed the table early in the season and looked genuine title contenders, they can at least retain a top half finish. This week, fifth placed Otley, who still have an outside chance of promotion, are the visitors. A Hinckley win would go a long way towards securing that top half finish.
Updated 18:59 - 3 Mar 2019 by Nick Robinson