Hinckley lost their unbeaten home record to promotion hopefuls Huddersfield on an otherwise pleasant, spring-like afternoon at Leicester Road. It was another bitter disappointment for the home support. In the end, it was a close run thing with Hornets outscoring their opponents by four tries to three but, once more, Hinckley started badly, and could not quite pull it back against a side brimming with confidence after 6 straight wins which had lifted them to fourth in the table. It was another frustrating performance from the Leicester Road men – moments of brilliance, punctuated with basic errors that cost the game.
DOR George Chuter couldn’t hide his disappointment after the game. ‘Inaccuracy and a lack of precision both individually and collectively came back to haunt us. All three of their tries, although well taken, came directly from our mistakes. The frustration is that, had we played as well in the first 15 minutes as we did in the last 15 we would have won the game. That said, though, we were up against a quality side who I think will go on to win the League.’
Field probably deserved their victory on balance but it has to be said that Hinckley were the victims of some inconsistent refereeing. Occasional refereeing errors are frustrating but there is an acceptance that such errors are part of the game. Players are much less accepting, and rightly so, of inconsistent refereeing and there were several examples of that during this game.
That said, Hornets again demonstrated their propensity to put themselves under pressure from the start. What little early possession they did secure was wasted with sloppy handling but they did at least hold out a little longer than has been the customary in recent weeks. It was not until the 14th minute that Field opened the scoring. Field secured a penalty lineout 5m from the Hinckley line, and, after being given a second bite at the cherry when Hornets were penalised for taking the man out, scored with a regulation catch and drive. Fly-half Chris Johnson converted.
Hornets seemed to take that as their cue to get into the game and responded four minutes later when, after a catch and drive 15m from the Field line had been halted, Joe Glover broke from the base of the ruck and fed Callum Dacey with a clever reverse pass. Dacey was tackled just short but managed to reach out to touch down over the line.
The rest of the half was relatively even. Neither side was able to fashion another clear cut scoring opportunity although Johnson did extend the Field lead when Hornets were penalised for wheeling the scrum 30m from their own line. Despite Oscar Harper being shown a yellow card four minutes short of the break, the score remained 5-10 at the interval.
Hinckley returned much the stronger of the two sides and Field found themselves desperately defending their line for a good 10 minutes. Joe Glover almost levelled things up but appeared to lose the ball in the act of going over.
It was therefore a surprise when Field stole a line-out 30m from their own line, worked the ball across field and centre Lewis Workman, who was excellent throughout the game, ran 70m to the line for the score. Johnson converted and a despondent Hinckley, after looking in control, found themselves 2 scores behind.
It was soon three. With Hinckley reeling, a 22m drop-out after Johnson had kicked wide with a drop goal attempt was claimed by Field and worked along the line for Workman to cross in the corner for his second. With Johnson adding the extras, at 24-5, Hornets now seemed dead and buried.
Paradoxically, the score seemed to galvanise Hornets into playing their best rugby of the game.
On 68 minutes, from a scrum 20m out, the ball was worked to the Field line and Alex Salt, making a welcome return from the bench after a serious shoulder injury, crashed over for the score. Wilson converted.
From the kick-off, Hinckley recovered the ball and in a superb demonstration of controlled rugby worked the ball from their own half for Craig Bresland to barrel over. Wilson’s conversion brought Hornets to within 5 points and, with 8 minutes to go, the crowd sensed what had seemed an unlikely victory 10 minutes earlier.
A typically frustrating mistake though brought disaster. From the kick-off, Henry Povoas, who had otherwise had an excellent game, dropped a routine kick-off in his own 22m in front of the posts to gift Field a scrum. The ball was fed back to the experienced Johnson who simply stroked the ball over for a simple goal to put the visitors out of reach.
Hornets did manage another try to secure 2 bonus points as a consolation when, from what was to prove the last move of the game, Pointon fed the line from a scrum 15m out and a delightful miss pass from Tom Wheatcroft allowed Dacey to dot down in the corner. But it was too little too late!
Next week, high-flying Chester visit Leicester Road in a re-arranged fixture that was postponed earlier in the year. It was against Chester in October that Hinckley’s season began to unravel. With Captain Alex Salt likely to play his first full game after being injured in that game, the home crowd will be hoping that Hornets can show they are still a force to be reckoned with.