Hinckley 19 Peterborough Lions 19
By Nick Robinson
Hornets share honours with Lions
Hornets rounded off the year with a hard fought draw with bottom club Peterborough Lions who showed that their relegation is far from inevitable with a much improved display to that which had seen Hornets run-away 48 -21 victors earlier in the season. In so doing, Hornets held on to this season’s unbeaten home record … but it was a close run thing.
Hinckley go into the New year in 4th place in the table, equal on points with Huddersfield who have a game in hand, and some 13 points behind leaders Hull Ionians.
Most clubs would be happy with that position as we enter the second part of the season but there is something of an air of disappointment around Leicester Road after what proved a spectacular start to the season. A top two finish is still not beyond Hornets, and with talisman Alex Salt due to return from injury in the New Year, there are still grounds for optimism but they will soon need to find the form that made them the team to beat early in the season.
All was not doom and gloom on Saturday. Recent signing Ollie Povoas was outstanding throughout, Hornet’s line-out functioned much better, and there was no shortage of chances created but, as is often the case with a side lacking confidence, Hornets lacked the precision required to convert those chances into points. It was immensely frustrating for what was Hornet’s largest crowd of the season.
It didn’t start well with Hornets in trouble from the start. Josh Smith failed to field the kick-off, handing a scrum to Lions on Hinckley’s 10m line. From the scrum, Peterborough worked the ball up the pitch with alarming ease and second row Tom Lewis rumbled over to score. Ben Young kicked the extras and Hornets were 7-0 down after 3 minutes without having held the ball.
There was no lack of possession for the rest of the half though as Hinckley dominated but without managing to reflect that dominance on the scoreboard. Smith and James Moreton both went close before losing the ball with the line begging, and several other knock-ons from promising positions meant that it was not until the 20th minute that Hornets were able to register their first points.
Joe Wilson kicked a penalty to 10m out, Povoas drove on from the line-out and the ball eventually found it’s way to Aaron Phillips on the wing to round his man and score in the corner. Wilson couldn’t manage the conversion but Hinckley were within 2.
From the kick-off, Hinckley recovered the ball, Povoas and then Jamie Skeritt drove Hornets into the 22 and, after a patient, build-up, Moreton forced his way over to score under the posts. Wilson’s conversion made it 12-7 and with Hinckley clearly in the ascendant, the crowd sensed a potential festive bonanza.
But Lions refused to play their part and indeed re-took the lead just 5 minutes later. Having secured a line out on the Hinckley 10m line, a rampaging run from Lewis took them into the Hinckley 22m. The ball was worked across the field and centre Suva Ma’asi went over in the corner. A superb conversion from Young took the score to 12-14.
And that was how it stayed until half-time, although not before Hornets had squandered the opportunity to go in ahead, preferring to scrum two penalties awarded in front of the posts on the cusp of half-time. The gamble did not pay off as Lions held up Mitch Lamb over the line to end proceedings.
Peterborough came out much the stronger for the break, and Hinckley were fortunate not to go further behind when Joe Glover was charged down 5m from his own line but the rebound squirted harmlessly for Phillip to fall on the ball unchallenged.
As the third quarter drew to a close, a penalty for a high tackle on half-way allowed Lions to kick to 5m. From the line-out, a rumble form the forwards failed to make the line but the ball was released to find replacement wing Simona Veikune who broke several attempted tackles to force his way over and extend the Lions lead to 12-19.
Hornets clawed it back 10 minutes later when Lions were penalised on halfway and Wilson kicked to 5m. A well executed catch and drive from the line-out saw Ben Marshall force his way over and Wilson added the extras.
The last 10 minutes were something of a tense affair with both teams having an opportunity to snatch the win at the death. As it happened, the defences held and the game ended with Peterborough hoofing the ball into their own dead-ball area to commence the celebrations. A draw was probably a fair result, but the reaction of the players clearly showed which team appreciated the points the most.
Hornets do not play again until January 5 when they will visit Wharfedale. The break will be a welcome break for a squad who look in need of a well earned rest.