Hinckley ended their season with a well earned bonus point draw against fifth place Tynedale at Station Road. The result means that Hornets finish the campaign in a disappointing 10th position in the league after a start which had promised so much more.
There were however signs of better things to come on Saturday as Hornets clawed their way back in the final few minutes to share the spoils in a game that they would probably have lost a few weeks ago. Indeed, they had the opportunity to win the game with the last kick of the game but Callum Dacey, who took on the kicking duties after an unfortunate injury to regular kicker Joe Wilson, was wide of the mark with his conversion attempt.
That said, a draw was probably a fair result in a game which had a definite end of season feeling about it and had seen dramatic swings in fortune for the two sides as the afternoon progressed.
The game also marked the last competitive appearance for Hinckley’s recently appointed DOR Scott Hamilton who so nearly managed a dream conclusion to a long and distinguished playing career when he almost went over in the last minute of the game but was hauled down just short. It was left to Dacey to cross for the equalising score.
Commenting after the game, Hamilton was happy with the overall performance. ‘Given that we had to start with just 19 men when Oscar Harper had to pull out just before the game with flu, and then we picked up a few more injuries as the game progressed, I was very pleased with the way things went. We started really well and played some of our best rugby of the season early on but we got caught out just before and just after half-time when we conceded all four Tynedale tries. It didn’t look good for us at 24-12 but the way we stuck to the task and pulled it back for the draw was really gratifying from my point of view.’
Hornets did indeed start well and could have had two tries in the first ten minutes but on both occasions the chance was wasted when Hinckley were penalised.
The first score came on 12 minutes when a Tynedale 22m drop-out was collected just inside the Hinckley half by Joe Wilson. Wilson fed Aaron Philip who chipped over the top of the on-coming defence, collected his own kick and offloaded in the tackle to captain Alex Salt. Salt gratefully romped in to score in the shadow of the posts, and Wilson added the extras.
Ten minutes later, Hinckley added a second. Jamie Skerritt broke from halfway but was dragged down 10m out. Tyne looked to have escaped as they successfully managed to slow the ball down but it was eventually fired along the line and Rory Vowles found a gap in the defence to sneak in for the score and put Hornets 12-0 ahead.
With the break fast approaching, it looked like Hornets would go in ahead but things rapidly unravelled. They looked to have survived when Tynedale knocked on from an attacking line-out inside the Hinckley 22m but Hornets were pushed off their own ball at the scrum and Tyndale’s No. 8 Joe Mills touched down over the line. Jake Rodgers’ conversion was a formality.
Worse was to follow 2 minutes later when another attacking Tynedale line-out was first held but the subsequent series of pick and drives eventually saw Tyne force their way over to tie the scores 12-12 at the break. Philip also picked up a yellow card in trying to defend the line
Two minutes into the second period, Ben Pointon stretched the Tyne defence with a a trademark break deep into Tynedale territory but Tyne recovered the ball and put in a speculative kick to the wing. Tyne’s Will Roberts was on hand to claim the ball and ran in from 40m to put Tyne ahead.
A couple of minutes later and a poor pass on halfway to Dacey saw the ball go to ground. Will Miller seized on the loose ball for Tyne and ran in under the posts. The conversion put Tyne 24-12 ahead and Hornets, having conceded all 24 points within a 15 minute period, were reeling. But they didn’t fold!
It did take until the 70th minute, however, for Hornets to give themselves a chance. Hinckley won a scrum against the head on half-way, the ball was run right and then back left, eventually finding Joe Wilson who squeezed over in the corner. Dacey’s conversion put Hornets within a score.
Two minutes later Tyne’s Miller was yellow carded for a tip tackle for which he was lucky not to see red, and Hornets saw their chance.
A penalty to Hinckley inside the Tyne half, gave Wilson the chance to set up the attacking line-out 10m from the line. The catch and drive was held, the ball found its way to Hamilton but he couldn’t quite deliver the fairy tale ending and Dacey it was who grabbed the bonus point score.