1st XV
Sat 02 Dec 2023  ·  National League 2 West
Hinckley Rugby Club
1st XV
Tries: B Pointon, S Read (2), M LambConversions: R Vowles (3)Penalties: R Vowles (2)
Old Redcliffians
Read brace sinks Reds in a classic

Read brace sinks Reds in a classic

Nick Robinson3 Dec 2023 - 22:33
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Hinckley 32 Old Redcliffians 22

Despite the fact that Hornets victory last week at Dudley Kingswinford was undoubtedly convincing, there remained a nagging doubt in the minds of many Hinckley followers that the quality of the opposition meant that any optimism generated had to be tempered by the knowledge that much sterner tests lay ahead. Saturday’s game against Old Redcliffians, a side that had recently turned over Clifton who had put 49 points past Hornets earlier in the season, was one such test and there was a nervousness in the crowd before kick-off not normally seen.

And in the early stages of the game, when Reds built a 10-0 lead, it seemed that perhaps that optimism may have been misplaced. By the end of the game, however, that optimism had turned into genuine belief that Hinckley now had a side capable of challenging any in the division. Another bonus point victory; five games unbeaten; and four tries that left the faithful purring. It was a victory to savour.

It was also a rugby game of the highest quality. Two big evenly matched packs, neither of whom took a step backwards; a referee who wanted the players to play; backs who were prepared to run rather than indulging in the endless kick tennis so often seen in the Premiership; it was a tremendous advert for Tier 4 rugby. The difference was perhaps that Hinckley’s backs were a little more incisive than their opposite numbers and their defence a little more solid. Reds though will have been disappointed that they took nothing from the game. They contributed greatly to the spectacle.

DOR Chris Campbell couldn’t have been happier after the game. ‘It was a very exciting afternoon and I think represents what this league is about this year - two teams having a real go and, once again, we scored some outstanding tries. Some defensive slip ups kept them in the game, but we kept our composure and confidence, with some excellent kicking from Rory Vowles supporting it.’

‘What's really pleasing at the moment is the impact from across the squad - Iwan Burgwin and Ben Pointon are in a great battle for the no. 9 jersey, and both played superbly today, Andrew Weaver, after he came on for Adam Groocock, showed physicality after a period of time out, and Sam Read came in after a couple of months out and scores a couple of tries.’

‘It’s an important couple of weeks ahead. We are slowly putting ourselves into the mix with the sides in the upper reaches of this league. Let’s see where we are after we visit Luctonians next weekend.’

The early exchanges were not dull but neither side could find a way through some solid defence. It was Reds who eventually broke the deadlock after fifteen minutes but in the most unfortunate manner. Hornets were defending a penalty line-out in their own 22m when Reds’ scrum half, Will Luxford, charged for the line. Adam Groocock appeared to have him covered but as he went in for the tackle, he fell awkwardly and appeared to dislocate his shoulder. Net impact was that Luxford was thrown over his shoulder, picked himself up and darted in for the try which fly-half Jack Gapper easily converted. Groocock immediately walked off the pitch obviously in severe pain and it may be a while before he is able to resume.

Gapper added a short-range penalty on twenty minutes after Hinckley were caught offside and Hornets ended the first quarter ten points in deficit.

Their response though was both immediate and memorable. From the kick-off, Hornets fielded a poor defensive kick out of the Reds 22m, Reuben Logan made good ground and Oli Bee then went through the middle of a ruck to get to the Reds’ 22m. A couple of phases later, the ball found its way via a miss pass from Rory Vowles to Ed Drake-Lee in space out wide. He was hauled down just short but Mitch Lamb was on-hand to collect the offload and go over for the score. Vowles then rounded off a great team try with an outstanding kick from the touchline.

What followed was possibly even better. Logan collected the restart and drove out of the 22m. Quick hands saw the ball go right to Jamie Dutton who carried to the Reds 22m line before being pulled down but further quick hands saw the ball go to the opposite wing and Sam Read, in his first game back from injury, ran in for the try. It was a rugby delight.

The rest of the half was much as the early period with both sides battering away but not able to breach the defences. Vowles did add a penalty as the half was coming to a close and Hornets departed or the break 15-10 to the good.

The restart though did not go well for Hornets. A lapse in concentration by Logan handed Reds a scrum on halfway. Poor defensive alignment allowed Reds’ flanker Dan Fry to drive through to the Hinckley 22m and a few phases later No. 8 Dan Thurston wrestled his way over under the posts for a try. Gapper’s conversion was a formality and Hornets were behind again.

That did seem to refocus the Hinckley men and eight minutes later, from a Hinckley scrum on 10m from the Reds line, Iwan Burgwin picked up from the base and fed Read cutting in from his wing. The big winger collected and crashed through for his second try. Vowles converted and Hornets were back in front.

Reds were having none of it though and responded with a try of their own after centre Toby Baker had made an incisive break from his own half to carry his team to the Hinckley 22m. With the Hornets defence at sixes and sevens, winger Finn Murphy eventually wriggled through for the
score. This time though Gapper could not convert and it was all square.

Hornets regained the lead from a Vowles penalty on the Reds 22m for a high tackle but the game remained in the balance until the 71st minute. A loose ball on halfway was hacked through by Logan, the Reds cover struggled to deal with it, and were penalised for holding on. Some unnecessary back chat to the referee cost Reds a further 10m and Hornets opted for the scrum 5m from the Reds line. Ben Pointon sniped from the base and, with an acrobatic role in the tackle, touched down in the corner. Vowles kicked another outstanding conversion from the touchline and Reds were dead and buried. Hornets played out time and when the referee finally brought proceedings to an end, Reds were left to ponder how, after such a classic encounter, they were leaving with nothing.

Nick Robinson

Match details

Match date

Sat 02 Dec 2023




National League 2 West

League position

Old Redcliffians
Team overview
Further reading

Team Sponsors

Community Rugby Partner - DPD
Hinckley Rugby Community Partner - Thomas Flavell & Sons