It finished all square at Leicester Road as Hinckley took on their namesakes from the West country on Saturday, but it was a game that Hinckley could and should have won. Generally, Hinckley defended well and gave the prolific Hornets attack little opportunity to score, restricting them to 17 points (against a season’s average of 33), but Hinckley failed to take their opportunities when they presented themselves against a defence that had conceded almost 40 points per game to date. In open play, Hinckley looked slick and full of intent with the back three in particular running strongly, but a frustrating tendency to over-complicate matters led to chances being wasted. Over-ambition also gifted Hornets their first try when an unnecessary miss-pass on halfway was easily picked off giving Hornets winger Luke Graham a simple run-in.
Hinckley seemed to want to play exhibition rugby when the simple approach would have been far more effective. Hornets did look a much better side than their record would suggest, and belied their defensive record with some tenacious defending particularly in the last ten minutes when Hinckley almost snatched the game, but the Hinckley faithful were left with the definite feeling that this was two points lost rather than two points won. In the end, Hinckley were left scrabbling for the equalising score with time running out on the clock. They did get the score but there is little doubt that they should have done better.
The result leaves Hinckley languishing still in the bottom half of the table and DOR Chris Campbell was clearly frustrated after the game not to have moved up the table. ‘Our first half performance was very positive with some great ambition, good decision making and the try from Adam Groocock was as good a team try as you will see at this level. We should have killed the game off in all honesty; but we made a couple of big errors in the 22 in both the maul and open play’.
‘In the second half, we just couldn’t get hold of the ball, which is a credit to Hornets, and, when we did get some possession, we tried to over play which was in direct contrast to what we did in the first half. Callum Dacey and Ed Drake-Lee had great games and were a real threat throughout but it’s still a massive disappointment to have come away with a draw in a game we should have put away’.
The teams ran out in beautiful late autumn sunshine and conditions seemed ideal for a high-scoring game. But the first score did not arrive until the second quarter when, much against the run of play, Hinckley threw a careless pass that Graham gratefully snaffled to go under the posts and Jamie Elswood converted with ease.
Hinckley did though respond quickly. They opted for the scrum when awarded a penalty around 20m out from the Hornets line and proceeded to try to batter their way across the line until Rory Vowles picked out Callum Dacey out wide with a clever cross-field kick and the wingman did the rest. Vowles converted to level the scores.
Hornets came close shortly afterwards from 10m line-out but Hinckley were able to hold up the maul to win a scrum and clear their lines.
A few minutes later Hinckley produced the try of the afternoon from a scrum on their own 22m. Reuben Logan picked up at the base and the ball flowed through several pairs of hands with Dacey and Jamie Dutton both making significant ground until the move broke down just outside the Hornets 22m. Quick ball was fed right, and then returned left allowing flanker Adam Groocock to crash over after a neat interchange with Mitch Lamb for a memorable score. Vowles though could not convert and when the whistle went for half-time a few minutes later, Hinckley went in just 12-7 in front.
It was short lived, however. On the resumption, Hornets won a penalty inside the Hinckley 22m and went from the corner. The catch was taken and the pack drove over with some ease, with hooker Keiran Ward coming up with the ball. Elswood’s conversion took Hornets two points in front.
That became five points on 66 minutes when Elswood slotted a penalty from the Hinckley 22m line after Hinckley were penalised for a high tackle, and, with only fourteen minutes to go, the home crowd were visibly twitchy as Hinckley struggled to maintain control of the ball.
Vowles wasted one golden opportunity kicking in search of his winger when there were five Hinckley men against two outside him, Dutton could not hold onto the ball and the chance was gone.
A Hinckley penalty on the Hornets 15m line was kicked to the corner but Hinckley did not control the ball from the line-out and knocked on.
The score did come though, albeit with just three minutes left on the clock. A scrum penalty awarded to Hinckley on the Hornets 22m line was kicked to the corner by Joe Wilson and at the resultant line-out, Hornets were again penalised. Hinckley opted to scrum. Ben Pointon picked up at the base of the scrum and fed left for Dacey to squeeze over in the corner for his second try.
Unfortunately, the kick was just too far out for Vowles to add the extras so the scores were tied, and so it remained for the last couple of minutes until the referee ended proceedings for the afternoon leaving the home support to ponder what might have been.