An all action, sometimes frenetic match played in ideal rugby conditions eventually saw Hinckley triumph over Fylde at Leicester Road on Saturday, consolidating their second place position in the league after last weeks setback at Chester. Looking back at the game it comes as something of a surprise that two sides, both of whose strongest suite lay in their backs, and who both looked to run the ball all afternoon only managed to score one try apiece. It was also testament to the Hornets defence that, after Fylde’s solitary score in the first 5 minutes, they could not breach the black and amber wall.
Injury and suspension had robbed the Hornets of 7 first team regulars coming into the game including their inspirational captain, Alex Salt, and there was some concern amongst the faithful that Fylde may inflict a second successive defeat on the under-strength Hornets. In the event, Hinckley ran out comfortable winners although until the sending off of Fylde wing man Henry Hadfield for stamping, the match was finely balanced. After that, Hinckley dominated and could easily have extended their lead but for a rash of forward passes that no-one except the referee detected.
DOR George Chuter was again happy with the performance of his men. After the game, Chuter commented, ‘We were below strength today as a result of injuries to a few key players but it gave an opportunity for others to step in and show what they can do. All credit to Fylde, though. They are a good side.’
His opposite number, Warren Spragg, was not so happy. ’It was a good competitive game between 2 well matched teams but the red card did for us.’
Spragg though would have been delighted with his teams start. Hinckley did not touch the ball for the first ten minutes during which a well executed catch and drive on the Hinckley 5m line, saw Christian Joyner force his way over for what was to prove his sides only score. The conversion was missed.
Hinckley’s first real contribution came when a brilliant interception by Tom Wheatcroft on halfway gave Sam Driver the chance to take the ball deep into the Fylde 22m. Driver was only stopped by a high tackle but Joe Wilson was unable to convert the penalty.
Wilson made amends shortly afterwards after Mitch Lamb had broken the Fylde line on halfway and offloaded to Gaz Turner to take the ball into the 22m. Fylde were eventually penalised under the posts and Wilson converted a relatively easy kick to take the score to 3-5 at the end of the first quarter.
The rest of the half was all action as both sides indulged their propensity for running the ball. Fylde arguably had the better of the play but neither side were able to convert an opportunity into points.
The half was coming to a close when Fylde were penalised for crossing at a lineout in the Hinckley 22m. A booming kick from Wilson took the Hornets to the other end of the pitch and Fylde were caught off-side from the line-out giving Wilson the chance to put the Hornets in front. He duly delivered and Hornets went into the break with a fragile one point lead.
Fylde came out of the blocks much the stronger at the start of the second half with Hinckley again struggling to get their hands on the ball. Frantic defence eventually led to second row James Moreton taking an enforced break after failing to retire 10m from a Fylde penalty. Fylde kicked for the corner but Hornets managed to hold up the resulting drive and the danger passed.
Hinckley eventually managed to break out from their own half when the abrasive Driver was presented with an opportunity to run out of his 22m as the third quarter was coming to a close. He was brought down just inside the Fylde half but the touch judge spotted Hadfield stamping on the prone Driver and Hadfield was sent for an early bath.
It was a game changer! Wilson kicked the penalty into the Fylde 22m. From the lineout, the ball was worked across the pitch for Jack Dickinson to break the line, shrugging off 3 would be tacklers on his way to touching down in the corner. Wilson converted to take the Hornets 8 points clear.
With their pack now in the ascendancy, Hinckley gradually took control and could easily have run in 2 or 3 more tries in the final quarter. In the event, they had to settle for a single penalty for Wilson when Fylde were penalised in front of their posts on the 22m line.
The last 5 minutes of the game was real harum-scarum stuff as Fylde desperately sought the score that would have given them a losing bonus point and Hinckley were seemingly infected by the madness. In the end though, it all petered out and Hinckley ran out worthy winners … but not by much.
Next week, Hornets visit third placed Huddersfield who after 2 early defeats have now put together a string of 6 successive victories. It’s likely to prove another severe test for Chuter’s men.
Updated 17:16 - 3 Jun 2019 by John Tilley