Hinckley 12 - 24 Cinderford
By Chris Campbell
Tough warm up game for the Hornets
DOR George Chuter expressed general satisfaction with the performance of his charges in their first outing of the new season against last years runaway winners of National 2 South, Cinderford.
The Gloucestershire outfit lost just once in the season and were as tough a warm up game as Hornets could have asked for.
‘It was a good test for us,’ commented Chuter. ‘We managed to have a good look at all the lads against a quality side. The game was hard but played in a good spirit and we saw some really good performances. About 9 or 10 of the lads were playing their first game for the first team and it was good to see some of the Colts stepping up.’
Earlier, captain Alex Salt had spoken about his hopes for the new season. ‘Accepting second best is no longer acceptable,’ commented Salt. ‘We know what it takes to win this league and we need to make sure we are delivering on that knowledge. We have recruited well and we need to push on.’
On the evidence of this game, Salt’s words had resonated with his men. In weather more suited to a cricket match and on a surface that could at best be described as ‘firm’, Hornets showed that they don’t lack commitment.
Cinderford dominated the early play and Hornets found themselves pinned in their own 22 for the first 10 minutes and it was not until the 13th minute that they set foot in Cinderford territory. Hornets defended well, despite struggling against a powerful scrum which had proved the foundation of their success in last season’s campaign.
There was, however, a sense of inevitability when Cinderford did eventually breach the Hinckley line on 19 minutes. A scrum in the Cinderford half saw the visitors’ eight push Hornets off their own ball and a flowing 50m movement saw the Cinderford wing touch down in the corner. The conversion was missed but there was some concern amongst the faithful that the score might signal the opening of the floodgates.
They need not have worried. A Hinckley penalty awarded from the kick-off saw the ball kicked for the corner and a patient and well executed catch and drive from the Hinckley pack saw them go over for the try. Joe Wilson converted and Hinckley were in the lead at the end of the first quarter.
10 minutes later Cinderford were back in front when, following sustained Cinderford pressure, the Hinckley scrum was pushed back over their own line for Cinderford to touch down. The conversion put the visitors 7-12 in front.
Half-time saw a raft of replacements on both sides as both coaching teams took the opportunity to experiment. Hinckley went in front again after 60 minutes when a Hinckley scrum in the Cinderford 22 saw Connor Bullivant come into the line to score under the posts. Wilson made took the score to 14-12.
Two late trys by the visitors, the first from a good interchange from by the Cinderford backs, the second from a catch and drive from 15m by the Cinderford pack, saw the visitors run out winners by 14-24 and retain the Sefton Cup for another season.
You can’t read too much into pre-season games, particularly one where around 60 players took the field during the game. That said, there were encouraging signs for the Hornets. Joe Wilson and Callum Dacey (playing out of position at scrum-half) both stood out, and it was good to see Connor Bullivant back to something like his old self after a difficult season last year. The Hornets’ defence seemed well organised even under the pressure of the many personnel changes and the three colts stepping up (Harry Bower, Tyler Moseley and Max Trickett) did not look out of place at this level. As a unit, the back division looked dangerous whenever they had the ball
The one area of concern was the scrum which was under pressure throughout the match until the scrums went uncontested. Admittedly, the Cinderford front row are as powerful a unit as Hornets are likely to encounter all season, and Hornets were without a couple of key personnel, but there is a worrying lack of strength in depth in the front-row which may prove Hornets’ undoing as the season progresses.
Next week Hornets visit National 1 outfit, Loughborough Students, kick-off at 3.00pm. It should prove another stern test for the Leicester Roaders.