By John Tilley
Peterborough Lions 21 Hinckley 48
It’s early days yet but, after 2 games, Hinckley are riding high at the top of the National 2 North division on points difference courtesy of what turned out to be an 8 try to 3 romp at Peterborough Lions. A hat-trick from Callum Dacey, who had another outstanding game, a brace from Ryan Hough and tries for Captain Alex Salt, Jack Dickinson and Joe Wilson saw Hornets put the newly promoted Lions to the sword in the second half, scoring 31 unanswered points.
Few saw that coming in the first half, however. There was a distinctly autumnal feel to the day as the teams ran out, with Hinckley facing a stiff breeze.
Lions were very much in the ascendancy in the early minutes as Hinckley struggled for possession. The home side camped in the Hinckley half, forcing several penalties from the Hornets and when the Hinckley pack were pushed off their own ball, conceding a penalty 5m from their own line, things looked distinctly ominous.
The resultant catch and drive was defended but only at the expense of another penalty and Lions opted to scrum. Quick ball found it’s way to the Lions wing Henderson to score and Ben Young converted - 7-0 to the Lions.
Hinckley evened the score on 14 minutes when the Hinckley backs finally saw some ball. A break from Tom Wheatcroft on the Lions 22m line allowed him to feed captain Salt who crashed over. Joe Wilson converted.
10 minutes later Hornets took the lead when an overthrown Peterborough lineout saw Joe Glover collect the loose ball 25m from the Lions line, and Dacey eventually crossed for his first.
Hornets were still struggling for possession, however, and it was only a last ditch tackle from Dacey which saved another try for the Lions, although it was at the expense of a yellow card for Josh Smith.
Lions did cross the whitewash shortly afterwards when the Hinckley defence fell for an outrageous dummy which allowed fly half Young to ghost through the line, offloading to diminutive Argentinian scrum half Perticaro for the score.
The conversion put the Lions in front and poor midfield tackling allowed Lions Jake Carter to extend that lead further to 21-12 with half-time fast approaching.
Then came what was arguably the game-turning moment. Some adjustment in a creaking Hinckley pack saw Dave Peck take up his customary tight-head position and the effect was immediate. The Hinckley eight forced their opposite numbers back at a scrum and Henry Povoas picked up and drove to within 5m. The ball was worked along the line and Ryan Hough crossed in what proved to be the final play of the half.
It proved a crucial score. Hornets were back in touch going in at the interval rather than hanging on to the Lions tailcoats, and they soon took the lead on the resumption. A chip over the top by Glover was not dealt with by the Lions defence and the ball was worked to Hough to score his second try and secure the bonus point.
Dacey scored his second a few minutes later. Lions hooker Askham was carded 10m from his own line, Hinckley kicked for the corner and the ball was worked along the line for Dacey to go over. The conversion took the score to 31-21.
Shortly afterwards, Lions were lucky not to lose a second man when a no-arm tackle floored Povoas as he tried to offload with a 2 man overlap. The resultant penalty was kicked to the corner. The pack earned another penalty 5 m out from the line-out and this time opted to scrum. Dacey, now at scrum half following an injury to Joe Glover, picked up from the back of the scrum and darted over for his hat-trick.
Hinckley were now rampant. Lions searched desperately for a fourth try which would have given them their first point of the season but there was no way through. Instead, Hornets got 2 more. First Wilson touched down, and then Dickinson went over after sustained Hicnkley pressure.
In the end, it proved a comfortable win but there were times early in the game when Lions looked the more likely to take the points. George Chuter summed it up well, ‘It was a slow start against a team who came out fired up. We look rattled early on and could easily have crumbled. The try just before half-time was crucial and we were much the better side in the second half. We spread the ball and stood up well in defence.’
Next up are fellow early season pace-setters Wharfedale at Leicester Road. Kick-off is 3pm.