The purists will tell you that rugby is about possession and territory. On both counts Hornets were soundly thrashed on Saturday by a big Stourbridge side who were desperate to avenge being’ ‘nilled’ home and away last season for the first time since the Leagues began. However, to win you have to score and despite feeding on scraps for much of the game, Hornets put five tries past Stourbridge to come away with a maximum 5 points for the fourth time this season and extend their unbeaten start to 5 games.
To be fair to Stourbridge, the game was nip and tuck throughout with the lead changing hands five times during the afternoon, and Hinckley only felt ‘safe’ when Jack Dickinson picked up a loose ball on halfway and raced away for a touch down under the posts in the 79th minute.
Few would argue that Stour deserved at least a point and could still have stolen two in the last minute until the Stourbridge wing, with a penalty advantage to play with, wastefully chipped over the top to the waiting Joe Wilson who called mark and then simply booted the ball into the stand as the referee blew time.
Conditions were ideal as the teams kicked off with a sizeable crowd enjoying the autumn sunshine.
Stour dominated the early exchanges. The normally reliable Ricky Aley missed a long range attempt after 2 minutes but the first real chance of the afternoon went to Hinckley after 10 minutes when, after a tremendous break against the run of play by veteran Scott Hamilton, the ball found it’s way to Gaz Turner with the line open. Inexplicably, the referee called the pass forward, much to the irritation of the travelling support.
Hornets did go ahead though on 23 minutes when an end to end move starting with a scintillating break from Mitch Lamb eventually saw Captain Alex Salt touching down, after Turner (twice) and Alex Branson had lent a hand. Joe Wilson converted and Hinckley were 7-0 ahead.
Stour hit back hard. A penalty from the kick-off saw Aley kick for the corner and Stour applied the pressure. Jamie Skerritt was carded for handling in the ruck as Hornets initially held out against the Stour onslaught. Stour opted to scrum on 5m and, after Hinckley were again penalised this time for wheeling, a pick and drive from the back of the subsequent scrum saw Stour hooker Jack Lea crash over to level the scores.
As half-time loomed, Lea grabbed his second after Aley drilled the ball into the corner following an Hinckley infringement and Hornets could not hold a series of ‘pick and go’ moves. Aley converted to send the home side in 14-7 to the good at the break.
Hornets came again from the restart and it was Sam Driver who forced his way through the Stour defence with a typical bullish run from 20m after the forwards had disrupted the Stour line, picking and driving from the base of a 5m scrum. Wilson converted – all square again!
Hornets grabbed the lead for the second time just a couple of minutes later when a neat sidestep from Tom Wheatcroft breached the Stour line and the ball was passed along the line for the league’s leading points scorer, Joe Wilson, to go over.
As the game entered the final quarter, Stour levelled the scores when flanker Mukarati drove over under the posts after yet another series of pick and goes from the Stour Pack and Aley again converted.
Hornets went down to 14 again from the kick-off when Jack Dickinson foolishly interfered with a man in the air.
With Hinckley down to 14, Aley bagged another penalty on 68 minutes to put Stour ahead after the Hinckley pack were penalised for not driving straight in the scrum 30m from their line, and Stour faithful scented victory.
But two tries in 5 minutes, the first from Ryan Hough after the pack had driven the ball deep into Stour territory, the second being Dickinson’s crucial score, either side of a missed penalty by Aley from 22m, turned the game on it’s head and the visitors ran out victors by a misleadingly convincing score of 24-33.
‘It was another good win,’ commented DOR George Chuter, ‘but we need to improve our discipline. Going down to 14 men for 20 minutes made it hard but we dug in well and our defence was good. Plus we scored some quality tries. I’m very pleased.’
Next week local rivals South Leicester visit Leicester Road for what is always a hard fought local derby. Kick-off is 3.00pm.