1st XV
Sat 24 Feb 2024  ·  National League 2 West
Hinckley Rugby Club
1st XV
Tries: S Read, D Ames, C Dacey, N Tarr, J BarnesConversions: C Rowe (3)Yellow Carded: M Lamb
Chester take advantage of woeful Hornets

Chester take advantage of woeful Hornets

Nick Robinson25 Feb - 22:56
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Hinckley 31 Chester 38

This will be a game that Hornets and their followers will want to forget… and quickly. Having arrived expecting a tough battle against their old rivals, Chester must have wondered where the team who had beaten them comfortably in the earlier fixture at Hare Lane, had gone. Hinckley had little to offer, particularly in the first half, and made too many basic errors. The back row were often absent in defence, the line-out misfired dreadfully, Reuben Logan was well shackled by the visiting defence and there was no real incision from the Hinckley backs who desperately missed their playmaker, Rory Vowles. Discipline too was an issue Overall, there was simply no energy to the Hinckley performance. Chester are by no means a bad side but Hornets made them appear much better than they really are.

It was a dramatic contrast to their last home fixture when Hinckley looked like prospective champions. On Saturday, they looked far more like relegation candidates and never led at any point in the game.

There were some mitigating factors (injuries had robbed Hinckley of many of their usual starters, including captain Alex Salt, and the referee did not have one of his better performances) and in fairness things did improve a little in the second half but twice in the second period they pulled back level only to concede tries immediately afterwards having conceded possession from a knock-on at the restart. Overall, it was probably Hinckley’s poorest performance of the season, despite them scoring five tries and picking up a second losing bonus point. Bizarrely, those two points moved them up to fourth in the table as last week’s opponents Clifton fell to a shock defeat at Dudley Kingswinford and Exeter University too lost out to Loughborough Students.

DOR Chris Campbell was not a happy man after the match but was still hopeful that his men will be able to put the game behind them. ‘That was one of the most frustrating afternoons we have had in a long time. Quite simply, our handling was poor - we scored five tries, without having to do a huge amount, but if you don’t have the ball, you aren’t going to score, and the longer the opposition have the ball the more likely it is they will.’

‘We lacked energy throughout the game. To an extent that’s understandable as we have a number guys including Groocock, Mukarati, Pointon, Lamb and Dutton who are carrying some real fitness issues at the moment but we should have brought more to the game and we know it.’

‘Amazingly, we have actually jumped a place back to fourth today with the results, although it doesn’t make it any better, and I said to the lads at the end of the game there is still a huge target to aim for. 6 wins will give us the best finish we have ever seen in the National Leagues. It is now a mini-season in itself. We need the break now, but we will be back firing in two weeks.’

Things did not go well from the off for Hinckley. Full-back James Preston missed a penalty opportunity after just two minutes but made no mistake with a long-range effort just three minutes later. Five minutes after that, a short-range catch and drive saw Chester No. 8 George Baxter break from the back of the maul and cross unchallenged for the try. When Preston converted, Hinckley were ten points down in as many minutes.

Sam Read almost got Hinckley’s first points a few minutes later after a break-out from the Hinckley 22m but the kick ahead just eluded him in the in-goal area.

Hinckley ran the ball back from the resultant dropout under the posts but it seemed that Nick Tarr knocked the ball on in contact. The referee though adjudged it had gone backwards and Adam Groocock was able to carry to the line before being hauled down. The ball went right to Read who managed to stretch out an arm in the tackle for the try to give the home support some comfort. Callum Rowe hit the post with the conversion.

It only took four minutes however for Chester to restore their lead. A line-out just inside the Chester half was worked to the line and hooker Scott Robson was able to charge through a hole in the Hinckley defence for the score which Preston converted.

It got worse for Hornets. A penalty line-out 10m from their line, was claimed by Chester, Baxter fed centre Ben Ivory who simply ran through for the score with hardly a hand laid on him and Preston again converted.

Hinckley did pull one back shortly before the interval though. Chester were penalised for not releasing in their own 22m and Rowe kicked to within 5m. The catch was taken, the drive set and Dom Aims was the beneficiary as the pack drove over the line. When Rowe converted it took the score to 12-24 to give Hinckley some hope going into the break.

And it looked like Hinckley may have put the first half blues to flight when, five minutes into the second period, a penalty on the Chester 22m was kicked to touch by Callum Dacey. The drive was set but held. Burgwin went right and Dacey took the ball on the cut-back and danced over for the score. Rowe converted and Hinckley were within a score.

With Hinckley now on top for the first time, several chances did come and go without success but Hornets did eventually get that score to bring them level after 64 minutes. With Chester under pressure and conceding penalties in their own 22m, a quick tap by Ben Pointon eventually reached Nick Tarr out wide to force his way over. Rowe though couldn’t convert.

The home support could sense another great escape in the making but three minutes later they went behind once more. Hornets knocked on at the restart to give Chester a scrum on the Hinckley 22m. The ball was quickly released and spun right to wing Ben Raubitschek who almost made the line but, from the subsequent series of pick and drives, prop Josh Woods was able to barrel his way over for the score which Preston converted.

Back came Hornets. A great nudge from Rowe inside his own half sent the Chester defence scurrying backwards and the clearance kick did not make touch. Hinckley ran it back and eventually a gap opened up in the line for Joe Barnes to run in under the posts. Rowe’s conversion tied the game up once more.

But from the restart, again Hinckley knocked on. The ball was sent wide from the scrum and Hinckley were penalised on their 5m line. The line-out was set up, claimed, and multiple phases later, Woods crashed over in a rerun of his earlier score. Joe Heaton added the extras with just five minutes left. It was not long enough though for the Hornets and the home support had to disperse in a far from jovial mood.

Nick Robinson

Match details

Match date

Sat 24 Feb 2024




National League 2 West

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