Hornets snatch victory at the death
Blaydon 36 - Hinckley 40
No-one could ever claim that following Hinckley RFC is boring. A devastating first half display against a Blaydon side who had to win to have any chance of survival in the division was followed by a second half performance that left the impartial questioning which side had been challenging for promotion and which had been haunted by relegation all season.
Hornets had secured a try bonus point within 20 minutes and went in at the interval leading by 33-5, with some of the local support proclaiming that Hinckley were the best team they had seen all season.
It seemed like a different team who came out for the second half though. A combination of squandered chances and poor defensive work, allowed Blaydon to score 31 unanswered points and take the lead with only five minutes left on the clock. It was literally the last play of the match when a series of well executed pick and drives in the Blaydon 22m eventually saw Mark Deaville go over to reclaim the lead. The Blaydon support were left devastated; the travelling Hinckley support were simply relieved.
It took only 8 minutes for Hinckley to open their account in the first half. Following a lineout on the Blaydon 22m, the ball found it’s way to Tom Wheatcroft who, following some deft footwork, released Josh Smith to score under the posts. Joe Wilson converted.
Blaydon hit back immediately when, from the kick-off, Joe Glover’s attempted clearance was charged down allowing Blaydon’s Harry Borthwick to touch down.
It was a temporary aberration though, as Hornets came again. First, George Marsden collected a loose pass on the Blaydon 10m line and ran in for the try.
Two minutes later, Alex Salt crashed over after a break from Josh Smith in his own half set up a series of forward drives close to the Blaydon line.
Smith was at it again five minutes later when, after a superb break from the Hornet’s 22m, he chipped ahead for Mitch Lamb to collect and run in for the score. Wilson’s conversion took the score to 5-26 with the bonus point secured.
It was not though until the 38th minute that the final score of the half came when the Hornet’s pack eventually converted from a catch and drive in the Blaydon 22m after having wasted three similar opportunities.
After the break, Hornet’s continued much as they had in the first half for the first 10 minutes but a lack of patience and perhaps a touch of complacency saw chances go begging.
Blaydon pulled back a try on 55 minutes centre Dan Marshall broke through the Hornets defensive line on the 22m line to score but there still seemed little for George Chuter to worry about.
Five minutes later and a quick throw on halfway saw Blaydon wing man Jack Appleton eventually going over in the corner. The conversion brought the score to 19-33 and Blaydon sniffed a chance.
When the referee went under the posts for a penalty try five minutes later after Sam Driver had illegally prevented a touchdown from a cross-field kick, the alarm bells really started ringing in the Hinckley camp. Driver was carded leaving Hinckley down to 14 against what was now a rampant Blaydon side.
Tom Catterick converted a penalty almost immediately to bring Blaydon within a score and there was a sense of inevitability five minutes later when Blaydon captain and No. 8 Keith Laughlin, who had an outstanding game holding together a beaten pack, picked up and went over from a five metre scrum to give Blaydon the lead.
To their credit, though, Hornets did manage to pull themselves together for a final effort and Deaville’s last minute score came at the end of one of the best controlled series of phases that the Hornets had put together all afternoon.
With the Hornets having their final match cancelled, it proved the final act of a season that saw many highlights and a few disasters. Hinckley finish fifth in the division, and could still have finished third had the final match gone ahead. At the beginning of the season, a top six finish would have satisfied even the most ardent of supporters, and the team can take great credit from their overall performance. Next season is a new chapter but we can be assured that few teams will look forward to taking on the Hornets in the new campaign.
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