1st XV
Sat 17 Feb 2024  ·  National League 2 West
Hinckley Rugby Club
1st XV
Tries: J Dutton, M Lamb, R LoganConversions: R Vowles (3)Yellow Carded: A Salt, B Pointon
Hornets grasp defeat from the jaws of victory!

Hornets grasp defeat from the jaws of victory!

Nick Robinson18 Feb - 23:29
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Clifton 31 Hinckley 21

Hinckley are a very good team, but there can be few others who subject their followers to as many highs and lows as Hornets. On Saturday, after a jittery start, a sublime first half performance, during which Hornets seemed to rip their opponents to shreds at will and left the local support fearing a massive drubbing for their men, was followed by a second half display when Hinckley failed to register a single point, conceding a 21-5 lead to lose by 31-21 with not even a bonus point to console them on the long journey home. Moreover, any real chance that Leicester Road might see Nat One rugby next season was left out on the Station Road pitch. It was all massively disappointing.

The turnaround began on the stroke of half-time when the Clifton wing squeezed through a gap out wide to claim the Lavender and Blacks’ second try. This was compounded by a third try conceded (yet again) immediately after the break to further confirm a habit that has become worrying in recent games. That saw a comfortable 21-5 lead become a slender 21-17 advantage in just five minutes.

It was not though that Clifton then dominated the rest of the game. Hinckley had at least five gold plated opportunities to add to their score in the second period but squandered every one, while Clifton with many fewer opportunities, converted what limited chances they had when they presented themselves. It was enormously exasperating for the travelling support, as their men threw away a golden opportunity to end the Clifton jinx. Hinckley have never beaten Clifton home or away and Hornets will be aware that they have never had a better opportunity to end that run than they did on Saturday.

Like every Hinckley supporter, DOR Chris Campbell, while praising the effort of his men, could not hide his disappointment. ‘No one can fault the effort and desire of the squad that represented us today. We put in a massive effort across the game and the players, despite their disappointment, shouldn’t think they didn’t give it everything.’

‘However, there is no doubt that this was a missed opportunity. We had the chances to win the game, but our execution was off at key moments…. and if you want to be at the top of the league, that isn’t something that can happen.’

‘There were some big moments - we went 21 - 5 up with two minutes to go in the half and missed touch. That gave Clifton the chance to run back and we knew, from our analysis in the week, that, if you give them ball in counter attack position, they can hurt you. That try on the break sent them in with a positive mindset, knowing they had the wind in the second half.’

‘We got within centimetres of the try line on three occasions in the second half but it wasn't quite to be. They went down to the other end and took their chances. It is things like that which shows why we aren’t quite there yet.’

‘We have to be realistic - any shot at promotion is gone now, but we have a chance of the best ever finish in the National Leagues and that is a huge motivator. We want to provide the supporters with an exciting and positive end to the season, to show just how far this squad has come and to set our marker out to be real challengers next season.’

Hinckley didn’t start well. A difficult wind, some poor defensive kicking, and poor discipline contrived to deny Hornets any significant possession for much of the first quarter hour. They survived a 5m line-out attempt by Clifton when they stole the line-out ball (one of many stolen line-outs during the first half with Alex Salt imperious) but failed to repel a second attempt on ten minutes which saw Clifton flanker Dan Broady force his way over after the initial catch and drive had been held.

The response was immediate though, kick-starting a period of dominance that neither the visiting nor the home support could have anticipated. From the re-start, Clifton failed to find touch with the clearance kick. Jamie Dutton fielded just inside his own half, fed Reuben Logan who scythed through the Clifton defence before delivering a return pass to Dutton to run to the line untouched. Rory Vowles added the conversion and Hinckley were on their way.

With Hinckley ruling the line-out, Logan was only prevented from adding Hinckley’s second try when Clifton No. 8 Brad Talbot brought him down 10m out with a high tackle, an offence that earned him ten minutes in the bin. Hinckley opted for the scrum, Clifton were penalised on 5m and Hornets scrummed again. With a try looking near certain, however, Logan failed to pick up cleanly at the base, and the chance was gone.

It seemed not to matter though a few minutes later. Hornets put together a series of phases which carried them from halfway to 10m out from the Clifton line. With a three man overlap out wide, Vowles chipped to the wing, and Mitch Lamb collected to go over for the try. Vowles converted to take the score to 5-14.

Next it was Callum Dacey’s turn to shine. A superb jinking run from deep, which included a little juggling en-route, saw him progress to within 15m of the Clifton line before being tackled but Logan was on hand to take it on for a score under the posts which Vowles converted.

Hinckley were at their zenith and seemingly set for a big win. But, with no more than minute left before the interval, Hinckley then gave their opponents a way back. Hornets were penalised inside their own 22m. A quick tap was worked right and wing Tom Ormsby wriggled over. It was a poor try to concede on the stroke of half-time.

On the return, an excellent 50-22 kick set up a Clifton line-out 20m from the Hinckley line. Line-out won, the ball was fed down the line and centre Will Owen (who became increasingly prominent as the half progressed) ran through for the try with the Hinckley defence seemingly asleep. Nathan Chamberlain converted and the lead was down to four.

Hornets though were far from dead but then conspired to squander chances galore. A short-range line-out was overthrown; a second was knocked-on. And then a brilliant break from Dutton, taken on by Dacey, put Alec Salt in the clear 20m out. It should have been a try, but Salt opted to pass out wide to Dom Ames who knocked on looking for the line. No doubt Clifton would see the covering tackle being outstanding defensive work but from the opposite point of view it looked like wastefulness.

Clifton took heart from the let-offs and when Ben Pointon was penalised and binned for a deliberate knock-on 20m from the Hinckley line, they opted to scrum. The ball was picked up and fed right and Ormsby went in for his second to give Clifton the lead and the bonus point. Chamberlain added the extras.

The game though was still live but Hinckley squandered two further short-range line-out attempts, first losing the ball on the line and then overthrowing. With Hornets chasing the game, Salt was carded 10m out with just three minutes left on the clock. With Hornets down to 14 and time ticking by, Clifton quite rightly opted to scrum and forced their way over for a try. Chamberlain’s conversion ended the contest. The reaction of the Clifton players to the try said much about how the game had gone. They knew they had been allowed to get out of jail!

Nick Robinson

Match details

Match date

Sat 17 Feb 2024




National League 2 West

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