Hornets registered their second bonus-point win on the road on Saturday against struggling Dudley Kingswinford. There is no doubt that it was a job well done for the Leicester Road men but, after a scintillating first half, the second period faded into something of an anti-climax by the end, particularly when compared to dominant performance last week. Perhaps a sense of complacency crept in after taking a commanding 31-10 lead by half-time (which effectively ended the game as a contest), or perhaps Dudley, having taken a hammering in the first period, came out for the second with something to prove, but, whatever it was, Hornets were less than commanding after the break.
That said, it is hard to be too critical after the men in black and amber had extended their unbeaten run to four games with what was a very comfortable victory. They remain in sixth place in the division but are slowly eroding the gap between them and those above them. A win next week against Old Redcliffians (who themselves are still very much in touch with the leaders despite their eighth position) could see Hornets rise to fourth place if other results go their way.
Rory Vowles had one of his better games with the boot, nailing all of his six attempts at goal, Oli Bee further consolidated his position as first choice lock, and Reuben Logan made some excellent bullocking runs. Callum Dacey again showed his class and Jamie Dutton continues to improve. There were some issues in the scrummage as Dudley began to get the upper hand in the closing stages but the line-out functioned well and there was little else to suggest that Hinckley were not the dominant side in any area of the field.
DOR Chris Campbell was quietly content with the result after the game. ‘The first half was a very impressive performance with some quality tries again and was very good game management. We asked the lads to back up last week and they did.’
‘In the second half, some might assume we let off the intensity but I think that would be unfair. What was different was our decision making wasn’t as sharp and we were guilty of, at times trying to score too quickly and that isn’t something that was going to happen against a combative side’
‘We managed to keep them at arms length throughout that second half however but as always, some areas we must look at before we host Old Reds next week’
Hornets came out of the blocks from the whistle registering their first try after only 2 minutes. Callum Dacey took a pass out wide on halfway after Hinckley had worked the ball out of their own 22m and jinked his way through the cover to the line for an excellent solo try. Vowles converted via the post.
Vowles stepped up again four minutes later to slot a penalty from in front of the posts on the Dudley 22m after Dudley’s lock Daniel Marsh had been penalised for playing the ball on the floor.
That took the score to 0-10. Dudley responded with a penalty of their own from flyhalf Theodore Mannion on the quarter hour but from the restart, Dacey collected the bouncing ball and Oli Bee was able to burst through from 30m to the line. Again, Vowles converted.
Dudley responded with a try from scrum half Fred Morgan, although there was a suggestion of obstruction in the build up which created a massive hole in the Hinckley defensive line to allow the Dudley man through. Mannion added the extras.
Hornets restored the gap though almost immediately. Dacey fielded a poor kick from Morgan inside his own half and fed right. Good hands gave Jamie Dutton the chance to run out wide. He was eventually hauled down inside the Dudley 22m but Mitch Lamb was there to take the offload and give Callum Rowe a walkover try by the posts. Vowles slotted the conversion with ease.
Logan claimed the bonus point try ten minutes later from a Hinckley line-out 10m from the Dudley line set up by a Dacey penalty. The drive was held but several phases later Logan burst through the cover for the score which Vowles converted. It remained at 10-31 until the break and the game looked done.
Dudley though had a different opinion and came out for the second period with renewed vigour. Good hands from a ruck on the Hinckley 22m saw Mannion cut through for a try which he then converted to cut the gap to 14 points.
That heralded a period of play when Hornets were most definitely on the back foot but they began to work their way back into the driving seat as the third quarter drew to a close.
Several try scoring opportunities came and went but the issue was finally resolved with eight minutes left on the clock when Nigel Mukerati forced his way over at the end of a move that had begun in the Hinckley 22m. When Vowles slotted the extras in the score stood at 17-38.
There was though still time for Dudley to claim a further score when the referee went under the posts for a penalty try when Hornets were penalised from a 5m line-out, and Adam Groocock carded to end his game a few minutes earlier than he anticipated.
Hornets almost added a last minute try but were denied when the referee called a forward pass as Logan crossed the line for what would have been his second try of the match. All in all, a pretty successful afternoon for the Leicester Road men.